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A man is drenched by a large wave during high tide as he cycles past at a fishing harbour in Chennai [Representational Image]Reuters

Cyclone Vardah has struck the southern coast of India, and is already wreaking hvoc on life and property. Local sources have said at least four people have been killed due to the cyclone and its effects. However, it is showing signs of weakening, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Meanwhile, the local authorities are on standby in many places and have already been pressed into action in the worst-affected parts. They have also issued important phone numbers for Chennai. Here are live updates of the cyclone from the ground: 

9 pm IST: Incidentally, Facebook has activated safety check for people affected by Cyclone Vardah

8:50 pm IST: Meanwhile, there is now threat of high winds and continued rain on Tuesday in Bengaluru, where the mayor has issued an advisory.

8:30 pm IST: Government, government-aided and private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur will remain closed on Tuesday. 

8 pm IST: The number of deceased has risen to four — two in Chennai, one in Kancheepuram and one in Nagapattinam — according to the NDMA. 

Meanwhile, thousands of trees and electricity poles have been uprooted and destroyed due to the cyclone. A total of 47 huts have also been completely destroyed. 

7:45 pm IST: Two fishermen have gone missing off the coast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. The ICG has subsequently deployed a ship for search and rescue operations. 

7:20 pm IST: The Indian Coast Guard has now put several of its rescue vehicles, including aircraft, on the ready in three cities — Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Karaikal.

6:40 pm IST: Here is a taste of how strong the winds of Cyclone Vardah are. See how it overturns an entire car: 

6:30 pm IST: The Chennai airport authorities have now said that operations there will remain suspended till 9 pm on Monday. And airlines are talking about it. 

6:25 pm IST: The India Meteorological Department has been quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying that Cyclone Vardah will weaken to a "cyclonic storm" in three-four hours. 

6:20 pm IST: Now, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said he and his ministry are closely monitoring the situation following cyclone Vardah.

6:10 pm IST: People are already joking about Cyclone Vardah, showing the spirit that keeps India going and gets the common man through a lot of hardships.

5:19 pm IST: Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam enquiring about the situation in the state in the aftermath if cyclone Vardah crossing Chennai, Thiruvallur, reports ANI.

4:12 pm IST: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has said that the entire landfall process will be completed during the next 1-2 hours, but the conditions will remain rough even after that. 

3:44 pm IST: At least two people have died after cyclone Vardah made landfall in Chennai, NDTV reported. Heavy rains and high speed winds are expected to continue for the next 8-12 hours.

3:14 pm IST: Operations at Chennai airport have been suspended until 6 pm. The cyclone's wind speed at  present is 100-110 kmph. Chennai suburban railway network has been suspended until further notice. Some trains to and from Chennai have been cancelled or diverted, the ADG of railways was quoted as saying by ANI.

2:55 pm IST: Cyclone Vardah makes landfall in Chennai. The landfall is expected to be completed in four hours, reports ANI.

2:22 pm IST: Outer periphery of cyclone Vardah hits Chennai coast; strong winds cause heavy damage, many trees uprooted, reports ANI.

1:51 pm IST: Cyclone Vardah is 50 km from Chennai. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has said that food and other essential commodities have been kept ready in adequate quantities. 

All flight operations at the Chennai airport have been suspended until 3 pm on  Monday. 

Naval aircraft standing by at the Naval air base in INS Rajali and Dega will be pressed into action. Additionally, one survey ship has also been kept on standby to undertake harbour survey in case there is any requirement, ANI reported.

12:50 pm IST: The Tamil Nadu government has said that 7,357 people have been safely evacuated to 54 relief centres so far, ANI reported.

Army sources quoted by the agency said that seven army columns are ready and on standby for rescue and relief operations. 

12:37 pm IST: Cyclone Vardah is likely to make landfall by 1:30 pm, according to Navy PRO Captain DK Sharma. He has also said that two naval ships — Shivalik and Kadmatt — are already in North of the area, which is likely to be affected. The ships will provide immediate assistance, if required. 

12:18 pm IST: Cyclone Vardah is now 87 km east of Bay of Bengal and is moving in the westward direction. It is expected to make landfall around 2-4 pm, the MeT Department has said. 

"Tidal wave will be one meter high, people advised to be in safe places & stick to instructions given by government," MeT Department director was quoted as saying by ANI.

12:09 pm IST: Very heavy rains have hit Chennai. In the last 24 hours, the Nungambakkam Observatory in Chennai received 57 mm of rainfall, Skymetweather reported. Light rains started in the night and gradually intensified into heavy showers by Monday morning. 

In other news, people living in Ennore and Palaverkadu have been asked to vacate their homes by Tamil Nadu government.

Flight operations have been hit at Chennai airport. So far, 15 flights have been cancelled, 25 flights have been diverted and nine others have been delayed, NDTV reported. 

11:35 am IST: Educational institutions and offices in Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts will remain closed on Monday.

Given below are the helpline numbers: 

Chennai Corporation Whatsapp - 94454 77207, 94454 77203, 94454 77206 , 94454 77201, 94454 77205.
Chennai Corporation Helpline numbers- (044) 25619206, 25619511 , 25384965 ,25383694, 25367823, 25387570. 

11:01 am IST: The sea is expected to be rough along the Andhra Pradesh and north Tamil Nadu coast. Fishermen have been cautioned against venturing out into the sea during the next 48 hours. People living in low-lying areas have been asked to evacuate and move to safer zones, NDTV reported. 

10:25 am IST: According to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the current wind speed is 50-60 kmph and during landfall the wind speed is expected to rise to 100-110 kmph, ANI reported. 

Six National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in Andhra Pradesh, eight teams in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Four National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh alone. "We are fully equipped and prepared," Pawan Kumar, sub inspector, NDRF was quoted as saying by ANI.

Original Story—

Cyclone Vardah is likely to strike the region between Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh and Chennai in Tamil Nadu by Monday afternoon. The cyclone is expected to cause heavy rainfall, measuring around 15-20 cm, along the coastal belt in Andhra and Rayalaseema region.

Moderate rainfall is also expected in Prakasam, Guntur and Ananthpur regions. "We are gearing up to face the situation even if the rainfall is more than 20 cm. People from low-lying areas have been evacuated to safer places and fishermen have been prevented from venturing into sea," Nellore collector Mutyala Raju was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times. 

Following the warning from Cyclone Warning Centre (CWC) in Visakhapatnam, the Indian Navy's eastern command, the Indian Air Force (IAF), and the Coast Guard have been put on high alert to carry out relief operations. 

"In preparation for the relief efforts of very severe cyclone Vardah, the Eastern Command has assumed high degree of readiness to render necessary assistance. All operational ships have been readied and kept on standby to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, including evacuation, should the situation demand," a statement by the Indian Navy read. 

"The very severe cyclonic storm Vardah is now lying at about 180 kilometres east of Chennai," IMD Director S Balachandran told ANI.