TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka: Residents prepare sand bags to protect their homes ahead of cyclone Burevi landfall in Sri Lanka’s north-eastern coast, in Trincomalee yesterday. – AFP

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka and southern India battened down the hatches for the second time in a week yesterday ahead of the scheduled arrival of another cyclone from the Bay of Bengal. Burevi will pack gusts of up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) an hour when it makes landfall late on Wednesday in Sri Lanka before moving west and hitting India around 24 hours later, forecasters said.

Warning of a storm surge of a meter, and 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain in places, Sri Lanka ordered a three-day closure of schools in the north and east and told fishermen to stay on land. India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said late Tuesday it had deployed 26 teams across the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. “Ready for cyclone,” tweeted the NDRF director general yesterday. The Indian Meteorological Department issued a red alert in several areas across both states and suspended fishing activity in some areas until Friday.

Last Thursday, a more powerful cyclone skirted northern Sri Lanka but hit Tamil Nadu with full force, uprooting trees and delivering 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain in some areas. But more accurate forecasting and the timely evacuation of several hundred thousand people were credited with keeping the number of people reported killed to three, a fraction of the death tolls in previous years.

Seven people were killed and some 20,000 lost their homes three years ago in Sri Lanka’s northeast following a similar cyclone during the monsoon season. Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh depend on the monsoon for power generation as well as irrigation, but excessive downpours and storms cause casualties and destroy property almost every year. – AFP