Sri Lanka evacuates thousands as Cyclone Burevi nears

LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

Sri Lanka evacuated 75,000 people from homes on the east coast where tropical cyclone Burevi, packing winds of up to 90 kph, is expected to hit the island nation late on Wednesday.

The cyclone is likely to damage coastal buildings and power lines and unleash flash floods, the island's disaster management centre said, advising those living near its path to stay indoors.

"By this evening or night, the cyclone will hit land," said Athula Karunanayake, the chief of the meteorology department, adding that wind speeds could reach 80 to 90 kph.

"Some areas will get more than 200 mm of rain."

Those evacuated, from the Trincomalee district expected to be hit the hardest, have been moved into 237 relief centres until the cyclone passes, disaster officials said.

But Anuradha Yahampath, governor of the Eastern Province which includes Trincomalee, said some people were still resisting the evacuation effort.

"I am appealing to people to go to these camps as soon as possible," he told local media.

"I met some of the fishermen earlier. They are aware of the situation but they are still not ready to leave their homes."

Authorities in the Northern and Eastern provinces, home to millions of people, will keep schools shut until at least Friday.

By Thursday, the cyclone's path will carry it northwest towards the Arabian Sea, Karunanayake said.

Burevi is projected to move into southern India by early Friday, Indian weather officials have said, but is expected to cause less damage there.

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