Thousands flee cyclone on India's east coast

Indian residents walk along a breakwater at Kasimedu fishing harbour as cyclone Phethai approaches the eastern Indian coast, in Chennai on Dec. 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018

Thousands flee cyclone on India's east coast

  • Cyclone Phethai packed winds up to 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour, felling thousands of trees and electricity pylons

NEW DELHI: A powerful cyclone left one person dead and forced thousands to flee their homes on India's east coast, officials said Tuesday.
Cyclone Phethai packed winds up to 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour, felling thousands of trees and electricity pylons, and bringing heavy rains to the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh state after making landfall on Monday.
Officials said 10,600 people were moved to relief camps after being evacuated from the worst affected districts.
The cyclone has since lost some strength and was moving westwards into the mainland, bringing heavy rains along its course.
One person was killed due to heavy rains in Vijaywada city, an official at the state disaster management authority told AFP.
Cyclone Gaja hit India's east coast last month, killing more than 30 people. Two people were killed by Cyclone Titli in October.
Storms regularly hit southern India between April and December. Last year, Cyclone Ockhi left nearly 250 people dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala states.


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 51 min 36 sec ago

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”