An old tamarind tree along the compound wall of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital fell across the arterial Tiruchi Road in the city around 10.30 a.m. on Sunday morning, forcing diversion of traffic for close to four hours.

In the process of falling, the tree smashed the wall of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, crushed a motorcycle and the boot of a car.

People who came to the church opposite the hospital had a narrow escape. The occupants of the car too had parked it along the road a little while ago and gone into the church for the Sunday Mass. The tree lay across the road, forcing diversion of traffic through Bank Road, Arts College Road and Race Course Road.

The Fire and Rescue Services personnel and workers of the Coimbatore Corporation and Public Works Department swung into removing the tree branch-by-branch, Mayor R. Venkatachalam said. The city police diverted traffic through other routes and guided pedestrians safely across the stretch.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor N. Karthik oversaw the contribution of the Corporation in removing the tree. Electric saws were used to cut the tree, with a view to restoring traffic quickly on a road that is being used by a number of bus services. Resident Medical Officer of the hospital P. Sivaprakasam was also present. “Fortunately, there was no one waiting at the bus stop along the hospital's wall. Otherwise, the massive tree may have crushed them,” the Mayor said. “And, luckily, this did not happen when people were moving from the road to the church.”

The soil around the tree had turned loose because of water stagnation. Apart from rainwater, what overflowed from an overhead tank and waste water stagnated around the tree. It came off the ground and landed across the road, shocking people in that area. Shopkeepers near the hospital said it was fortunate that the tree did not fall on a working day, during the normal flow of patients to the hospital. “The wall took most of the brunt. It slowed the pace of the fall. Otherwise, it could have fallen with more force and caused greater damage to the vehicle. Nearly 10 ft of the wall was damaged,” Dr. Sivaprakasam said.

The incident set the Corporation thinking about possible risks in other parts of the city. “Old trees, especially the dead ones, are a big risk during rain,” the Mayor said. “We will look at co-ordinating with the Revenue Department in identifying trees posing risk to people on roads. When large ones fall, they can cause loss of lives and property,” he said. “We need to focus on busy spots such as markets, bus stops and hospitals.”

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