Cyclone Thane hit the coast of Tamil Nadu on Friday, making landfall between Puducherry and Cuddalore that has resulted in the death of 19 people so far. So far 12 people have been reported dead in Cuddalore and seven dead in Puducherry.
Five people died in Cuddalore in incidents of wall collapse and electrocution, officials said. A 45-year old man of Vanarampet village in Puducherry died in house collapse. (Watch: NDTV's Ground Zero report from Puducherry)
The landfall happened very close to Cuddalore, southeast of Puducherry. The system is likely to move westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu coast, close to south of Puducherry, within a few hours and weaken gradually. As a result very heavy rainfall will continue over Northern Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Rayalseema.
Puduchery District Collector S B Deepak Kumar said that rescue operations were in full swing in the union territory. Uprooted trees were being removed from the roads.
Train services from southern Tamil Nadu were hit as many of them ran late or were stopped in the nearby station while flights to international destinations by private carriers
including to Kuwait and Malaysia from Chennai were cancelled.
Cuddalore was the most affected, with damaged roads rendering it difficult for rescue teams including those from National Disaster Response Force and fire and rescue services to reach the cyclone hit fishing hamlets.
District Collector Amuthavalli said even as communication lines remained affected, over 5000 houses of fishermen had been damaged.
"We don't know what is happening in the outside world. All that we have been hearing since last night is the howling of the wind. Several trees have fallen down. Even mobile phone signals are not proper," S Ravikumar, a Puducherry resident, told IANS.
Storm surge of about 1.0 to 1.5 meter above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate the low lying areas of Puducherry, Chennai, Tiruvallu, Kanchipuram and Villupuram districts of north Tamil Nadu.
Even after the landfall, the system is likely to maintain its intensity for 12 hours even after landfall weakens gradually. Under its influence rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and isolated extremely heavy fall is likely to continue over north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in next 24 hours.
Eight teams of the National Disaster Management Force (NDRF) have been sent to the coastal areas. Two of these teams will be in Andhra Pradesh, rest six in Tamil Nadu in view of the cyclone warning.
Another 15,000 men of the NDRF are on alert.
Schools buildings in Chennai have been turned into shelter homes and the entire city is on high alert.
A weather scientist had earlier said that Cyclone Thane would probably be half in intensity than that of the super-cyclone that struck Orissa in 1999 which packed wind speed of more than 220 km per hour.Chennai helpline numbers:
Chennai Corporation - 1913,
25619237; Kancheepuram district administration - 1077, Police control
room - 9445465536, 27238001; Tiruvallur district administration -
27661200; Police control room - 27661010.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)