Saturday, December 31, 2011

India death toll climbs in wake of Cyclone Thane

The death toll from a storm that has pummeled India's southeastern coastline rose Saturday to 27, with thousands forced to seek refuge in emergency shelters, officials in the worst affected area said.

The Tamil Nadu district of Cuddalore, south of the city of Chennai, bore the brunt of Cyclone Thane's fury Friday, with winds gusting at almost 90 miles per hour at its peak.

The storm uprooted trees, ripped off traffic signals from their posts and sent shards of glass and other debris whizzing through the air.

Amuthavalli, the district's top official who goes by a single name, told CNN the number of residents killed stood at 27 as of Saturday but is not expected to climb much higher. Some lost their lives when walls collapsed or downed power lines caused electrocution.

One of those killed was a French national, the French Foreign Ministry said Saturday. France presents its sincere condolences to the victim's family and his loved ones, the ministry said.

The first priority is to restore power supplies, she said. Workers will then start clearing fallen trees and other wreckage from the district's roads. Read More