Chest-high waters surged down the streets of India's southern city Chennai on Tuesday with nine people killed in intense floods hours before cyclone Michaung made landfall on the southeast coast.
The cyclone was forecast to hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh state later Tuesday as a "severe cyclonic storm", packing winds up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) per hour, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
In Chennai, cars were seen floating on raging torrents, homes were flooded, and a crocodile was spotted swimming the streets in the city. In some parts of the flooded city, people used boats to get out of their flooded neighbourhoods to the safety of government relief shelters, AFP reported.
The IMD warned of "exceptionally heavy rainfall" in some areas.
"We are facing the worst storm in recent memory," Tamil Nadu state chief minister MK Stalin said, in a statement late Monday.
Police said on Tuesday that nine people had been killed in the state capital of Chennai.
They included some who drowned, as well as one person hit by a falling tree, another electrocuted by live wires in the water, and a 4-year-old child who was crushed by a falling wall.
Trees were uprooted and vehicles swept away due to the heavy rains, according to images posted on social media.
Meanwhile, 9,454 people have been evacuated from the seven districts of Konaseema, Kakinada, Krishna, Bapatla and Prakasam to safety in 211 relief camps, according to NDTV citing a dataset shared by the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA).
The state government evacuated 910 people from Konaseema district, 523 from Kakinada, 1,814 from Krishna, 702 from Bapatla, 128 from Prakasam, 1,991 from Nellore and 3,386 from Tirupati.
As part of relief efforts, 10,251 food packets and 18,068 water packets were distributed among affectees.
Home Minister Amit Shah said the government was "braced to provide all the necessary assistance to Andhra Pradesh", with rescue teams deployed and more "on standby to mobilise as needed".
Although the cyclone is expected to weaken late Tuesday, scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer with climate change.
Cyclones — the equivalent of hurricanes in the North Atlantic or typhoons in the Northwest Pacific — are a regular and deadly menace on coasts in the northern Indian Ocean, where tens of millions of people live.