More reports on: Environment

Chennai limps back day after Cyclone Vardah left 6 dead

13 December 2016

A day after Cyclone Vardah incapacitated the whole of northern Tamil Nadi, including capital Chennai and southern Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the storm headed towards Karnataka, although at a reduced wind speed.

 Image: Skymet Weather Services Pvt

Flights resumed In Chennai and power was back, a day after Cyclone Vardah blasted the Tamil Nadu capital between 1 pm and 2:30 pm on Monday, killing at least 6 people in the city. Most of the deaths, including that of a three-year-old boy, were due to incidents of wall collapse.

Hours after the winds that touched 140kmph died down, Chennai was desperately trying to be back to normal as roads were blocked by fallen trees and a complete blackout made movement difficult.

The first 'very severe cyclonic storm' to hit the city and the first cyclone in city since 1994, Vardah left in its wake a trail of destruction. Six people, including four women and a three-year-old child were dead in Chennai while another person died in Kanchipuram. Thousands of trees -- the corporation counted 2,810 were uprooted, injuring several people and blocking roads.

The city airport remained shut since 8am as flights could not land or take off in the gust.

Southern Railway called off 39 train services and rescheduled several more. Trains of metro rail, mass rapid transit system and suburban services were also affected. There was a virtual blackout after cables snapped in the wind; in some places, Tangedco resorted to shutdown to prevent accidents. Schools, colleges, offices and factories remained closed.

By 8pm, the corporation, along with the National Disaster Response Force and the city police had cleared 650 uprooted trees and fallen sign boards and streetlamps. Teams were working overnight and reinforcements were being brought in from other districts. The corporation said by Tuesday morning the main roads would be cleared.

The city had recorded 11cm of rain while the airport received 17cm.

Wind speed exceeded 140kmph on Marina beach, and by 4pm, tides were seen rising above three metres. Fishermen's huts and dwellings along the shore were swept off, forcing people to take shelter at and nearby buildings.

People on the roads were stuck for hours due to diversions and blocks.

All suburban services were suspended by around 1:00pm, leaving commuters stranded across the city and its suburbs. Platform roofs at the Chennai Beach and Central stations swayed in the wind and one on Beach collapsed.

Hundreds of passengers were stuck at Central station without electricity or mobile phone connections even as buses and cabs stopped plying after 1pm. Passengers were unable to even seek shelter in the waiting rooms where the roofs leaked.

Between Sunday midnight and 8 am on Monday Chennai Airport operated 46 flights, diverted 27 flights and cancelled five, airport director G Chandramouli said.

The last flight to land at Chennai airport was on Monday at 7.50am and it left Chennai around 8.20am. Operations at the airport were then suspended due to increased wind velocity. "One good thing is that no flight got stranded in this cyclonic weather conditions," he said.

In view of development of cyclone Vardah over Bay of Bengal, the centre had deployed 19 flood rescue teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as a proactive deployment.

Eight flood rescue teams comprising of more than 250 rescuers, equipped with 23 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and communication equipment have been pre-positioned at coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh.

One team each has been pre-positioned at Ongole, Prakasam and Vishakhapatnam, Twenty-two teams at Sri Kala Hasti, district Chittoor. Four teams have been pre-positioned at Sullurupeta, Nellore and Tada block areas of Nellore district.

Eleven flood rescue teams comprising 428 rescuers, equipped with 48 Inflatable Rubber Boat (IRBs) and communication equipment have been pre-positioned in low lying parts of Tamil Nadu.

One team each has been pre-positioned at Mabalipuram and Tambram (district- Kanchipuram), Two teams are at Chennai, three teams are at Tiruvallur. three teams are en-route to NDRF base Arrakonam from NDRF base Pune. In addition, one team is at Puducherry district.

Some additional teams are kept on standby and shall be mobilized as per demand.

DG, NDRF is closely monitoring the situation round the clock. NDRF Control Room in Delhi is in touch with IMD and local state administration.

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