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Cyclone Kills 33 in India; Thousands Take Shelter in Camps

The aftermath of Cyclone Gaja is seen in Tamil Nadu, India, Nov. 16, 2018, in this picture obtained from social media.

The death toll from a cyclone that hit India’s southern coast has reached 33, with the storm leaving a trail of massive damage to homes and roads and driving tens of thousands of people into relief camps, officials said Saturday.

India's navy assigned two ships and a helicopter for relief work. State authorities rushed drinking water, food and paramedics to nearly 82,000 people who took shelter in more than 400 state-run camps.

They were evacuated from areas in the path of Cyclone Gaja, which struck six districts of Tamil Nadu state on Friday with heavy rains and winds that reached 90 kph (55 mph).

Relief workers found 13 bodies Friday and an additional 20 on Saturday, said Edappadi Palaniswami, the state's top elected official. Most deaths were caused by flooding, house collapses or electrocution.

The cyclone uprooted 30,000 electricity poles and more than 100,000 trees, he said. Nearly 10,000 workers were trying to restore electric service to the worst-hit areas, he said.

Palaniswami said many goats, deer and wild animals had perished in the flooding over the past two days.

Coconut trees over thousands of acres of farmland have been uprooted, said Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, a farmers organization.

Tamil Nadu state is prone to cyclones that develop in the Bay of Bengal.