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Power out as cyclone hits Myanmar's main city

world Updated: May 03, 2008 18:42 IST

AFP
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Severe tropical cyclone Nargis lashed Myanmar's main city on Saturday, downing power lines and tearing rooves off houses as residents took shelter in their homes and waited for the storm to pass.

Electricity supplies in Yangon have been cut since late Friday night as the storm bore down from the Bay of Bengal, packing winds of 190-240 kilometres per hour, residents said.

Trees were uprooted across the city and streets were deserted with no buses or taxis seen and all shops closed. Many buildings were damaged with their rooves blown off and billboards knocked down.

"I have never seen such a storm in my life," one resident told AFP.

Nargis made landfall around the mouth of the Ayeyawaddy (Irrawaddy) river, about 220 kilometres southwest of Yangon, before hitting the country's economic hub.

Today evening it was forecast to move northeast towards Thailand, which warned that flash floods could hit the north, centre and east of the country and said heavy rains were expected until Monday.

Myanmar's state-run radio was off the air in Yangon and Internet connections were down, with even government sites unavailable. A meteorologist said he was unable to give updated information as he had lost contact with other offices.

The post and telecommunications office however sent a message to mobile phone users warning that the rear eye wall of the cyclone was approaching after winds dropped mid-afternoon.

Witnesses said police trucks with loudspeakers were also relaying the warning and telling residents to stay indoors.