Tropical storm brews in Bay of Bengal off Indian coast

HYDERABAD, India (AP) – Indian authorities issued an alert, closed schools and canceled trains in parts of the country on Friday as rescue teams braced for a tropical storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal.

The storm is expected to hit the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday, then enter the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal on Sunday with winds reaching 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph), said the head of the Indian meteorological department, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra. .

Scientists say that severe storms are more and more frequent in India and that climate change has made them more intense.

Andhra Pradesh State Relief Commissioner Kanna Babu said fishing boats in both states were ordered to return to port and thousands of relief and rescue teams were deploying for recovery operations.

Mohapatra also said offshore oil rigs in the region have been asked to suspend operations on Saturday and Sunday.

The storm is expected to trigger heavy to very heavy rains over parts of Andhra Pradesh. As of Friday, it was about 650 kilometers (470 miles) from Visakhapatnam, a key port city.

In May, two storms hit India in 10 days, with Cyclone Tauktae killing at least 140 people in western states. Nearly 70 of the victims were on a barge that broke off its anchors and sank off the coast of Mumbai.

In May last year, nearly 100 people died in Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade. It has razed villages, destroyed farms and left millions of people without electricity in eastern India and Bangladesh.

Some of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record have occurred in the Bay of Bengal. A 1999 super cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated much of Odisha. Thanks to better forecasting and more coordinated disaster management, the death toll from Cyclone Phailin, an equally intense storm that struck in 2013, was below 50, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

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