Cyclone Thane kills 15 in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (Third Lead)

December 30th, 2011 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Dec 30 (IANS) Fifteen people were killed, thousands left homeless, and properties and crops were damaged when cyclone Thane, packing a wind speed of 140 kmph, hit the coast between Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Friday morning, officials said.

Initial estimates put the deaths in Tamil Nadu at 12 and three in Puducherry, caused by electrocution and collapse of roof or wall.

Standing paddy crops on around 25,000 acres of land in the Cauvery delta region is estimated to have been damaged due the high speed cyclonic wind.

Thousands of people reached relief camps in Cuddalore as the strong wind blew the thatched roofs of houses.

The wind also uprooted hundreds of trees, electric poles, traffic signal poles and mobile phone towers, and damaged standing crops across the coastal districts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

A Korean cargo ship OSM Arena anchored out in the sea started drifting towards Chennai shore due to the strong current and wind. The ship is now standing at a safe distance and steps to tow the vessel to safer waters will be taken Saturday.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangasamy held emergency meetings with their officials to take stock of the situation and take out relief measures.

Jayalalithaa ordered release of Rs.150 crore for relief and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.

In a statement issued here, Jayalalithaa said: “District collectors, department heads and secretaries have been ordered to estimate the damages and submit it to the government.”

She also ordered ministers B.V. Ramanaa (Environment), C.V. Shanmugam (School Education, Sports), K.A. Jayapal (Fisheries), T.K.M. Chinnaya (Animal Husbandry) and M.C. Sampath (Rural Industries) to oversee relief measures in Tiruvallur, Villupuram, Nagapattinam, Kanchipuram and Cuddalore, respectively.

Power supply was disconnected in Cuddalore, Villupuram and Nagapattinam since Thursday night as a precautionary measure.

However, Jayalalithaa ordered restoration of power and removal of fallen trees.

Around 6,000 people living in low-lying areas in Kanchipuram, Cuddalore, Tiruvallur, Nagapattinam, Villupuram and Chennai have been shifted to safer places.

Teams from the National Disaster Management Force have been sent to Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Chennai and Tiruvallur.

“Waves measuring 1.5 metres in height are hitting the shoreline. The storm is more wind-centric and there’s not much of rain. Puducherry recorded 14 cm rain while Cuddalore 7 cm,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told IANS.

In Chennai, people in low-lying areas were shifted to relief centres and food packets were distributed. Police banned public from venturing out onto the Marina beach as sea waters entered inland, around 500 metres from the shoreline.

Boats and nets of fishermen were sucked into the sea due to high tides.

Tamil Nadu’s coastal districts Chennai, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore were witnessing heavy wind and rain since Thursday night.

The sea has been rough and has inundated some residential areas along the East Coast Road connecting Chennai and Puducherry.

Cuddalore district officials said traffic on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram road was suspended as uprooted trees blocked the way.

Southern Railways rescheduled two trains, cancelled five and diverted five that reach or leave Chennai.

In Puducherry, power was switched off since 11 p.m. Thursday night as a precaution.

“We don’t know what is happening in the outside world. All that we hear is the howling of wind. Many trees have fallen down. Even mobile phone signals are not proper,” Puducherry resident S. Ravikumar told IANS.

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