MADRAS, India -- A typhoon that pounded southeastern India over the weekend left at least 70 people dead, 44,000 homes in ruins and tens of thousands marooned in swirling floodwaters, authorities said Sunday.
About 68,000 people were reported displaced in the former French colony of Pondicherry alone. In neighboring Tamil Nadu state, rescuers evacuated several thousand marooned residents to higher ground on Sunday.
India's Southern Railways said all train services to and from Madras, the country's fourth largest city and capital of Tamil Nadu, had been crippled because of damage to railroads in the southernmost Indian state.
A day after the cyclone uprooted trees, knocked down power and telecommunications lines and triggered the collapse of the main television relay tower in Pondicherry, hundreds of thousands of residents in coastal areas were reported without electricity, telephone and TV services and drinking water.
'The cyclone has cut a swathe of death and destruction,' Pondicherry Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam said.
The storm brought torrential rains, triggering flash floods, landslides and house collapses. Most of the homes wrecked were mud-and-brick dwellings.
Vast tracts of farmland were inundated and many hamlets were under knee-deep floodwaters, officials in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry said.
The northwesterly typhoon gusting up to 80 miles per hour (130 kph) from the Bay of Bengal weakened after hitting Pondicherry and the northern coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. Heavy rains also were reported in the state of Karnataka.
Several flood-ravaged areas were isolated from the rest of the country because of damage to highways and telecommunications lines. Officials said they expected the fatality toll to rise since they had not received reports from all cyclone-hit areas.
In Pondicherry, a small federally administered territory, the overflowing Sattanur Dam swamped residential areas, forcing hundreds to flee, District chief R. Narayana told reporters. The local administration said more than 20,000 homes had been wrecked in Pondicherry alone.
Most of the deaths, however, were reported from Tamil Nadu.
This is the third time in one year that Tamil Nadu has been pounded by a typhoon.