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Deadly Cyclone Laila slams into India, causing mudslides and power outages

Cyclone Laila, a powerful storm that hit India on Thursday, has resulted in the deaths of 23 people and caused mudslides and power outages.

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A young fisherman runs past fishing boats anchored on the shore after a cyclone alert, on the Bay of Bengal's Orissa coast in Puri, India, Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Cyclone Laila was expected to slam into the coast of southern India's Andhra Pradesh state from the Bay of Bengal on Thursday as the region braced for the worst storm in 14 years.

AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout

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The death toll from a powerful cyclone that slammed into southeastern India, toppling power lines and triggering landslides, has climbed to 23, a top official said Friday.

The storm plunged a large swath of coastal Andhra Pradesh state into darkness when it hit Thursday packing strong winds of 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour. The storm made landfall near the coastal town of Bapatla, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Hyderabad, and waves as high as 9 feet (3 meters) lashed the coast.

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Even before the cyclone hit, some parts of the state had received up to 1 foot (32 centimeters) of rain. Officials said at least 23 people have died since Wednesday when heavy rains began. At least 55 fishermen were reported missing, although authorities had ordered fishing vessels to stay in port.

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State welfare agencies evacuated more than 50,000 people from low-lying villages ahead of the storm.

The latest deaths included four people killed in a landslide near the city of Vijaywada late Thursday night, state revenue minister Dharmana Prasad Rao said. Another four deaths were reported in nearby Nellore, Guntur, and Prakasham districts.

Strong winds uprooted trees, power lines and billboards, blocking roads in many places. Nearly a dozen towns and more than 1,400 villages in six districts were hit by power outages, state officials said.

More than 10,000 people died when Andhra Pradesh was struck by its worst cyclone in 1977.

In northern India, a powerful thunderstorm Thursday caused 10 deaths. Six died when their homes collapsed near the town of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh state, officials said.