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'Severe' Cyclone Headed Towards Eastern India

Thousands of people are fleeing their homes in search of higher ground as India braces for a massive cyclone along its eastern seaboard.

The Indian government says it plans to evacuate 100,000 people to safer areas before Cyclone Phailin, currently spinning in the Bay of Bengal, hits the region Saturday.

Officials in the states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh say Phailin is expected to make landfall in the area with winds up to 220 kilometers per hour and a coastal storm surge of two meters. Weather forecasters have warned those numbers could increase as the "very severe" cyclone strengthens.

Indian authorities have warned of extensive damage to crops, village dwellings and old buildings, as well as a disruption of power, water and rail services.

A cyclone hit Orissa in 1999, killing at least 10,000 people.

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