Chennai: Cyclone Vardah crossed the Chennai coast and ripped through the city killing ten and leaving a trail of destruction in the form of 4,000 uprooted trees, damaged roof sheets and more.
"The cyclone crossed the coast near Chennai Port Trust. It will weaken into a depression in the coming hours. However there will be rains and winds blowing at 70 kmph," S. Stella, Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, told IANS.
She said the wind speed touched a peak of around 120 kmph when the first part of the powerful cyclone crossed the coast on Monday evening.
The cyclone was accompanied by heavy to very heavy rains, which left Chennai drenched. But most people, aware of the nature's fury, remained indoors, leaving the roads across the city virtually deserted.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam in a statement said three persons were killed and around 4,000 trees were uprooted in the city.
He announced a solatium of Rs 400,000 to the families of the dead.
"The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has deployed 4,000 personnel to set right power lines damaged due to high speed winds that blew at a speed of 130 kmph when the cyclone Vardah crossed coast near Chennai Port," Panneerselvam said.
While all efforts would be taken to restore power supply at the earliest, it will take couple of days for that to happen in some places in North Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts, Panneerselvam said.
According to S. Balachandran, another Director at the Regional Meteorological Centre, the western part of the cyclone crossed the coast first and then came the central part.
Stella said the Meenambakkam Meteorological Centre recorded a rainfall of 18 cm from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The Nungambakkam centre recorded 10 cm of rains.
Not only uprooting of trees, the winds brought down overhead cables and electricity poles. Some trees fell collapsed on parked vehicles, damaging them.
Advertisement hoardings and name boards of offices and shops were damaged and glass panes on windows and buildings shattered due to the strong wind. Water-logging was reported from in several roads, and sewage overflows in many areas.
Those on two wheelers who continued to drive despite warnings fell on the road due to strong winds.
The intensity of the gales made a severe impact on railway infrastructure, resulting in considerable damage to overhead electrical lines at several locations.
This affect train services, said Anupam Sharma, the Divisional Railway Manager. A total of 20 trains were held up in Chennai stations. The Southern Railways cancelled three long distance trains while diverting and rescheduling several other trains.
Panneerselvam said 10,432 people were shifted to relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts.
As a precaution, the electricity board cut power supply to major parts of the city in the morning itself.
Mobile phone signals were affected severely due to the cyclone.
The railways cancelled suburban rail services and diverted some long distance trains.
"As the wind speed is around 50 knots, it is not conducive to operate the flights," Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri told IANS.
A total of 25 Chennai bound flights were diverted, nine got delayed and five were cancelled. The incoming flights were diverted to Bengaluru or Coimbatore.
Passengers who reached Chennai by trains just before the cyclone hit faced huge problems reaching their destinations due to the fewer number of buses and autorickshaws on the roads.
The Met department predicted rainfall over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next 36 hours (till Wednesday).
The Tamil Nadu government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the affected areas. All educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts will remained closed on Tuesday.
It has told the private sector to allow their workers to avail a holiday or work from home.