Cyclone Nilam batters Chennai but city spared the worst

Cyclone Nilam batters Chennai but city spared the worst

Strong winds pounded the city but Chennai breathed easy as Cyclone Nilam moved away from the capital after making landfall at Mamallapuram.

The BBC reported that rescue operations were under way to find five sailors missing from an oil tanker Pratiba Cauvery that ran aground in the cyclone. One of the crew members drowned after a boat carrying him and others capsized near Chennai.

The ship rescue operation had to be suspended because of the bad weather. The authorities are concerned because the vessel is carrying oil which could create a major problem if it spills. The vessel drifted in high winds and ran aground off Besant Nagar.

Seven people were killed when Nilam struck the southeastern coast with winds of up to 100km/h (60mph). More than 100,000 people have been evacuated.

More than 100,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm and shifted to higher ground.

The Hindu said nearly 100 trees were uprooted causing massive traffic jams in parts of the city. There were power cuts and schools and colleges remained closed today (Thursday). About 4,000 people in different fishing hamlets along the cost were evacuated.

A large tree on Poonamallee High Road near Pachaiyappa’s College and one behind Sangam cinemas were uprooted, resulting in a traffic pile-up. Trees on R. K. Salai, Binny Road, Santhome High Road and in parts of North Chennai including Royapuram and Choolai also fell. Several areas were plunged in darkness as power supply was cut as a precaution In Tambaram all 11 KV substations were turned off. Nunngambakkam and Meenambakkam received 9 cm and 8 cm of rainfall respectively.

Chennai has so far recorded nearly 85 cm of rainfall against its annual average of 140 cm, thanks to northeast monsoon. Cyclone Nilam also brought in good inflow into the four reservoirs, which supply water to the city.  The steady inflow from catchment areas has added nearly 200 million cubic feet of water to the storage. This is equal to five days of drinking water supply to the city.

Roads and agricultural land across the coast have been badly damaged and power lines have been brought down in several areas by the cyclone struck.

Many believe the prompt response of the authorities to Cyclone Nilam is one reason why its impact was minimised, our correspondent adds.

Cyclone Nilam hit the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and the town of Pondicherry on Wednesday night.

In December 2011, more than 30 people died and many homes were damaged after a cyclone struck near Pondicherry. And in May 2010 at least 23 people died as a powerful cyclone caused widespread havoc across Andhra Pradesh.