Chennai: Cyclone Nilam crossed Chennai and made landfall at Mahabalipuram, south of the Tamil Nadu capital at about 4.30 pm on Wednesday. Two people have been reported dead in storm-related incidents. One person died and six other members of an oil tanker's crew are feared missing, after their ship ran aground off the Chennai coast. 15 crew members are still on board the private ship, MT Pratibha Cauvery; 16 people who managed to escape are in hospital.
Here are the 10 latest developments on this story:
- The ship was grounded at the Outer Anchorage of Chennai Port, off Besant Nagar locality in South Chennai. The police, Navy and Coast Guard are conducting rescue operations, which have been suspended at the moment as the sea is very choppy.
- The rescue party will reportedly try and ascertain if the six missing people too are aboard and in a different part of the ship.
- As the cyclone made landfall, windspeed went up to about 100 km per hour. Press Trust of India reports that a 46-year old man slipped into the rough sea in Puducherry and drowned.
- Many areas in the temple town of Mahabalipuram are without electricity, after 195 lamp posts were damaged by the storm. Initial reports said 90 trees were also uprooted in Mahabalipuram and two huts were damaged. It is still very windy. Before landfall, 3888 people had been evacuated and moved to relief centres around Mahabaliburam.
- Immediately after the cyclone's landfall curious people spilled out of their homes in Chennai and crowded the Marina Beach.
- Schools and colleges in Chennai have been closed since yesterday and will remain closed tomorrow. Government offices and many private organisations closed at 3 pm today to reduce traffic congestion.
- Chennai has been on the ready with 282 schools designated to serve as relief centres. Community kitchens have also been arranged. Cyclone shelters have been organised in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts with essential supplies. The government has made arrangements to send generators and sand bags to vulnerable areas in the districts.
- The MET department has predicted extremely heavy rainfall of over 25 cm or more in north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the next 24 hours and heavy to very heavy rainfall over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and north interior Tamil Nadu in the next 48 hours.
- The sea is expected to be rough for the next 36 hours off the coast of north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh and the MET department has advised total suspension of fishing operations and has asked coastal dwellers to move to safer places.
- The last cyclone in India struck in the same southeast region in January, claiming 42 lives and leaving a trail of destruction across Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh state saw its worst cyclone in 1977 when more than 10,000 people were killed.
Emergency nos in Chennai:
26412646, 28170738, 24838968, 24867725, 22342355, 24425961, 22420600, 24500923