Tropical Storm Laila Keeps India East Coast Port Shut, Heads for Landfall

A port on India’s east coast, which handles iron ore and coal shipments, remained shut today as tropical cyclone Laila headed for landfall after disrupting crude oil output in the Bay of Bengal.

The cyclone, with winds of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour, was about 50 kilometers due east of Ongole, a town north of Chennai, as of 11:30 a.m. local time, according to the India Meteorological Department.

Loading and unloading of cargo has been halted at Gangavaram, the closest major port, Anil Panjwani, head of marine operations at the port, said by telephone today.

“Operations have been suspended,” said Panjwani. “But it has affected only one ship, which is waiting outside until the weather settles.” The vessel is carrying about 30,000 metric tons of coal for partial discharge, he said.

Reliance Industries Ltd. stopped crude oil output May 18 at the KG-D6 field in the Bay of Bengal for as long as 48 hours, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. Spokesman Manoj Warrier was unable to provide an update when contacted by telephone today.

Six people died in rain-related incidents in Chennai and across the state of Tamil Nadu, the Times of India reported, including a woman struck by lightning and a man washed away by waves. Hundreds of fishing boats were damaged, according to the newspaper.

Some coastal areas may see waves as high as two meters (6.6 feet), while some places may face 25 centimeters (10 inches) or more of rainfall in the next 36 hours, according to a weather office statement at 1:30 p.m. localtime.

To contact the reporter on this story: Natalie Obiko Pearson in Mumbai at

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