India shuts schools, offices, evacuates thousands as Cyclone Michaung nears

Authorities in southern India on Monday closed schools and offices, halted flights and evacuated coastal areas ahead of a severe cyclonic storm expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours, causing torrential rains.

Cyclone Michaung is expected to land on the coast of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday morning, the country's weather office said, with sustained winds of 90-100 kph (56-62 mph), gusting to 110 kph.

Authorities in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Tamil Nadu were on high alert for damage, officials in both states said, with warnings issued for fishermen not to venture out into the sea.

In Andhra Pradesh, authorities had evacuated nearly 7,000 people in eight coastal districts and were preparing to evacuate a total of 28,000, depending on the cyclone's path and severity, a senior official in the state's disaster management department told Reuters.

In Tamil Nadu, authorities declared a public holiday in four coastal districts and asked people in Chennai, the capital of the state, not to venture out unless necessary.

Chennai airport halted operations for two hours on Monday morning after torrential rains in the city, media reports said, and several flights were cancelled or diverted to other cities.

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