Over 3,150 relocated to cyclone shelters; over 81,100 hectares submerged; death toll reaches six; signal five remains hoisted

Pushed by the cyclonic storm, the sea heaved higher and higher, and whipped up mist, and taunted the sturdy breakwaters that secure Nagapattinam port on Wednesday. On land, lashing rain and stormy wind - that persisted since Monday and lasted till Wednesday evening - made life sticky for destitute humans and animals – all left at the mercy of cyclone Nilam and their ability to survive through it all.

As the cyclone zipped past sparing the district a direct assault, it had already left a trail of submerged paddy fields, inundated homes and relocation of thousands to community shelters. According to official figures, over 3,150 people were relocated to cyclone shelters in Thalainayar and Keezhayur blocks. This included relocation of 2,100 people from Pirinchamoolai, Vandal and Gundooranvellir villages to community halls. Similarly, over 1,050 people were relocated to Thalainayar Government Higher Secondary School.

As for agricultural fields, there was nothing left to salvage, as the past fortnight had registered over 800 mm of rains, seen as the highest in a short span. According to official information, over 81,100 hectares were submerged. This includes full submergence of 51,486 ha of directly sown fields; and 13,421 ha of transplanted fields; and part submergence of 4,404 ha of directly sown area and 12,189 ha of transplanted area.

Two persons were killed in incidents of wall collapse and suspected drowning in a field, taking the death toll to six in the district. On Wednesday afternoon, a 62-year-old woman was killed when a wall collapsed in her hut at Mayilangudi. In another incident, 66-year-old Pakkirisamy was found dead in his submerged field, presumed to have been drowned after a fall. According to official figures, 74 livestock casualties were reported.

As darkness set late evening, the sea looked cowed down, belying its ferocity until a few hours ago. Streets were desolate the whole day with only stray eateries that functioned under half-downed shutters. Coastal hamlets were inundated, and all tsunami housing colonies were afloat. Preliminary information places 54 km of municipality roads and 23 km of town panchayat roads damaged. Official figures may still be understated as the extent of wall collapses in 600 revenue villages of the district would have to be ascertained. According to locals, two wall collapses were reported at Eravancheri village in Keezhvelur.

The Naval detachments of Kodiakkarai and Thopputhurai had secured their two boats to the detachment at Mallipattinam.

Signal 5 remained hoisted at the port office.

Kavita Kishore reports from Karaikal

Karaikal experienced heavy rainfall throughout the day leading to as many as 20 huts being partially damaged. Although no one was evacuated, close to 40 people decided to shift to the rescue shelters fearing their houses would collapse.

Around 5.30 pm, the rain stopped in Karaikal. As of Wednesday evening, there was no damage reported to cement structures and apart from a few trees and branches falling on the road, the area remained unharmed, Collecter J. Ashok Kumar said. So far, they had not arranged for any of the people to stay overnight in the shelters. They would wait till 9 pm before making a decision, he said.