A fabrication unit at the developed plots of industrial estate in Thuvakudi suffered total collapse and extensive damage was caused to the machinery of two other units in a gale on Sunday evening.

The gale, which held sway for about 20 minutes, left behind a trail of destruction. The force of the wind was such that an empty container locked to a trailer was blown off to a distance of about 50 metres on the premises of another unit. Roofing of asbestos and galvanised sheets at several industrial sheds were torn to smithereens. A unit at the industrial estate in Vazhavandankottai also suffered enormous damage.

Mangled steel and destroyed machineries are all that remains of the shed in Metal Engineering. “There is no scope for salvaging anything in the unit. The loss could exceed Rs. 1.5 crores,” according to Rajappa Rajkumar, President of BHEL Small Industries Association.

At the two units of the Baby Engineering Private Limited (BEPL), the gale twisted the support systems envisaged to withstand wind speed of up to 150 km per hour. But for the support provided by the cranes, the sheds would have disintegrated. “The gale was unprecedented. We are in the process of estimating the losses. Restoration of the machinery and resumption of production process will take at least five to six months, its Managing Director, B. Amirthakasi, said.

The saving grace was that the gale occurred on a Sunday. Had it been on a working day, many lives would have been lost, Mr. Rajkumar said. Minor damages have been caused to nearly 70 of the about 180 fabrication units in the industrial estate. The combined losses exceed Rs 4 crore, he said.

Though the machineries have been insured, the units that bore the brunt of the gale are apprehensive whether or not the entire loss will be borne by the insurance companies. In any case, erecting the shed at the prevailing costs will entail three times higher expenditure, leave alone the loss on account of production, according to Mr. Amirthakasi.

Weathering the losses, the affected units have been pushed to a predicament of retaining their existing workforce in a situation of acute manpower shortage. Restoration of power supply that went off immediately after the gale uprooted lampposts started gradually only on Tuesday.