A "very severe" cyclone barrelled towards southeast India on Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of villagers, just a month after a killer storm triggered another massive rescue effort.
Cyclone Lehar, packing sustained winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour (75 miles per hour), was expected to make landfall in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh late Thursday, accompanied by waves of up to one metre (three feet), authorities said late Wednesday.
More than 1,000 rescue workers were deployed in the flood zone as the state evacuated some 27,000 people Wednesday and aimed to get another 120,000 villagers to the 103 relief camps set up along the coast, said the local disaster management authority.
The Indian weather office categorised the cyclone as "very severe" and warned of "extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts" as well as disruption of power and communication lines.
It added that there would be extensive damage to crops.
But Lehar, meaning "wave", was expected to be less serious than Cyclone Phailin which slammed into the coast further to the north in October, killing 18 and leaving a trail of destruction.
Phailin, which was also classed as "very severe", had sustained winds of over 200 kilometres an hour that uprooted trees, overturned trucks, snapped power lines and damaged crops in Andhra Pradesh and its northern neighbour, Orissa.
The most powerful storms which strike India at this time of year are classified as "super-cyclones" followed by "very severe" and then "severe".
Cyclone Lehar comes just a week after Cyclone Helen -- a "severe" storm -- killed eight people and destroyed large tracts of farmland in Andhra Pradesh.
In 1999 more than 8,000 people were killed when a cyclone hit Orissa, which took years to recover.