A cyclone that killed at least three people in northern Sri Lanka was set to slam into the southern tip of India, bringing tidal waves along with it.

The storm, which had been packing winds of up to 150 kilometres an hour, lost some strength over Sri Lanka. But it could regain some of its power as it crosses the Gulf of Mannar.

It was expected to hit the coast between the ports of Pamban and Tuticorin, creating waves of up to two metres.

Severe storm warnings have been issued in Tuticorin, and fishermen have been told not to put out to sea.

People have been evacuated from low-lying areas near the coast.

When the storm cut across Sri Lanka on Tuesday, the high winds snapped power and communications lines, rivers burst their banks, flooding roads and crops, and more than 60,000 people were marooned.

The brunt of the cyclone ripped through areas under the control of Tamil separatist rebels.