Publishedduration1 hour agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionThe cyclone is expected to make landfall on Wednesday night

Heavy rains have been lashing the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu as it braces for Cyclone Nivar.

Officials said it is expected to make landfall on the south-eastern coast shortly after midnight, intensifying into a "very severe cyclonic storm".

Rain has already felled trees and flooded much of the state capital, Chennai (formerly Madras).

Tens of thousands of people have been asked to leave their homes and move to relief centres in south-eastern states.

The cyclone is expected to bring winds gusting up to 145 km/h (90mph), India's meteorological department (IMD) said.

All fishing boats have been advised to return to harbours. Thirty disaster response teams have been deployed across Tamil Nadu, the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh and the tiny territory of Pondicherry (also known as Puducherry).

The coast guard has deployed offshore patrol vehicles, helicopters and aircraft for assistance and surveillance.