Severe tropical cyclone threatens India

BY newsdesk  October 11, 2013 at 3:55 PM EDT

A category 5 cyclone is headed for India and threatens to be one of the most intense storms to hit the country.

The storm, named Phailin (the Thai word for ‘sapphire’) is estimated to have winds up to 160 mph.

Phailin is expected to make landfall within 24 hours and could subject India’s east coast to “storm surge flooding, damaging winds and flooding rainfall.” The storm surge, experts say, would have a devastating effect, possibly yielding a “wall of water up to 20 feet high.”

The Associated Press reports officials have ordered tens of thousands of coastal villagers to flee their homes as the massive cyclone gathers strength.