Cyclone Laila slams into southeastern India causing power outages, landslides; 23 killed

HYDERABAD, India (AP) — The death toll from a powerful cyclone that slammed into southeastern India, toppling power lines and triggering landslides, has climbed to 23, a top official said Friday.

The storm plunged a large swath of coastal Andhra Pradesh state into darkness when it hit Thursday packing winds of 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour. The storm made landfall near Bapatla, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Hyderabad, and waves as high as 9 feet (3 meters) lashed the coast.

Even before the cyclone hit, some parts of the state had received up to 1 foot (32 centimeters) of rain. Officials said at least 23 people have died since Wednesday. At least 55 fishermen were reported missing, although authorities had ordered fishing vessels to stay in port.

State welfare agencies evacuated more than 50,000 people from low-lying villages ahead of the storm.

The latest deaths included four people killed in a landslide near the city of Vijaywada late Thursday night, state revenue minister Dharmana Prasad Rao said. Another four deaths were reported in nearby Nellore, Guntur, and Prakasham districts.

Strong winds uprooted trees, power lines and billboards, blocking roads in many places. Nearly a dozen towns and more than 1,400 villages in six districts were hit by power outages, state officials said.

More than 10,000 people died when Andhra Pradesh was struck by its worst cyclone in 1977.