Tamil Nadu braces for severe cyclonic storm

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CHENNAI (Reuters) - Tamil Nadu plans to evacuate people from some regions and has temporarily halted bus services and placed rescue vehicles on standby in anticipation of a severe cyclonic storm, the state's chief minister said on Tuesday.

"People living in regions vulnerable to the storm and in houses deemed not safe should be immediately shifted to relief centres," Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami told government officials in a meeting today, his office said in a statement.

India's weather office said at 1630 hours on Tuesday that Cyclone Nivar was "very likely" to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours, becoming very severe in the 12 hours following.

It is expected to cross the southern Indian coast in the late evening of Nov. 25 "as a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph," the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The storm is likely to bring very heavy rainfall and thunderstorms to northern Tamil Nadu, the adjoining region of Puducherry and the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, the IMD said.

The heavy rains and strong winds were likely to damage houses and roads, uproot power lines, destroy crops and break trees along the coast of northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh, the weather office said in a statement.

Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, said ponds may leak due to heavy rains and ordered officials to monitor them and take precautions.

Both Palaniswami and Reddy ordered fishermen to not venture into the sea in order to protect life and property.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Catherine Evans)