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News: 265
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October 11 2013 at 16:59

Monster cyclone threatens India's densely populated eastern coastline

Forecasters say Cyclone Phailin will make landfall on Saturday, hitting India's densely populated eastern coastline.

As of Friday morning, Phailin was rated as the equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The cyclone is forecast to approach the coast as the the equivalent of a strong Category 4 or 5 hurricane.

Some forecasters likened its size and intensity to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast and New Orleans in 2005.

The Indian Meteorological Department described Phailin as a "very severe cyclonic storm," with storm surge flooding, damaging winds and flooding rains expected.

On Friday, India's National Disaster Management Authority announced the storm could affect up to 12 million people. As a point of comparison, the population of the province of Ontario is about 13.5 million.

Local authorities say they fear massive destruction to cattle, crops and villages. Large scale power outages and road closures are also expected if the storm continues on its current path.

Satellite images of the storm showed its spinning tails reaching nearly 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from the east coast of India to the west coast of Myanmar, an area roughly the size of France.

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