India issues cyclone alert for southeast coast

A powerful cyclone was hurtling Wednesday towards India's southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, a month after a killer storm forced one million people to flee their homes, officials said.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) advised the state administration to evacuate thousands from the path of Cylone Helen and forecast it would batter several districts of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.

"Under the influence of the cyclone... extremely heavy rainfall would occur over south coastal Andhra Pradesh on November 21," the agency said.

It said the cyclone, packing windspeeds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour, would also kick up surging sea waves and inundate parts of four coastal districts.

The NDMA put the state's emergency services on alert, warned fishermen to stay out of the sea and asked Andhra Pradesh authorities to evacuate people.

The body added it has rushed six teams to the region.

The alert came a month after a terrifying cyclone killed at least 18 people, and left a trail of destruction along the coast in Andhra Pradesh and in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Casualties from Cyclone Phailin were minimised after the biggest evacuation in the country's history saw some one million people leave their homes.

More than 8,000 people were killed in 1999 when a cyclone hit the same region, devastating crops and livestock. The area took years to recover.