Two persons died in the aftermath of the very severe cyclonic storm ‘Thane' in Chennai and the neighbouring Tiruvallur district on Friday.
Though the storm, whose landfall was between the coast of Cuddalore and Puducherry, did not bring the anticipated very heavy rain – the weathermen had forecasted up to 25 cm – the intermittent showers accompanied by gusty winds were enough to throw life out of gear in the city. According to police, a middle-aged woman was crushed to death when portions of a a 70-year-old house on Dr. Ambedkar College Road in Pattalam collapsed on Friday afternoon. Firemen said the structure, which was ill-maintained, was further weakened following the showers since Thursday night.
The victim, whose identity is yet to be established, was walking on the road when the wall of the ancestral home of Manikchand came crashing down. “My family and I were in the house around 2.30 p.m. when the front wall collapsed and fell on to the road. I had planned to demolish and rebuild the house that my father had bought, as the structure turned weak over the years,” Manikchand told The Hindu.
Charles Sam Rajadurai, Inspector of Police, Pulianthope, said that the debris fell on the woman and she died on the spot. A dog which also got trapped died. A man, Rajaram (54) of Choolai suffered injuries.
In the other fatal incident, in Tiruvallur district, a septuagenarian was electrocuted on Friday morning on Ambedkar Street in Gandhi Nagar, Pattabiram, after he touched a livewire that was hanging loose following the heavy rains. Pattabiram police said the incident occurred around 8.30 a.m. when the victim Jesudas (70), a private security guard and a resident of Gandhi Nagar, was on his way to a bus stop.
Though the very severe cyclonic storm was downgraded to depression by Friday evening, strong surface winds with a wind speed of 45-50 km per hour prevailed in the city. Nungambakkam and Meenambakkam recorded 3 cm and 7 cm respectively between 8.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. Chennai would experience rainfall on Saturday too, the officials added.
The rain accompanied by heavy winds forced many people to remain indoors. Many shops were closed and the traffic was much less.
Traders in Koyambedu wholesale market reported dull sales as the complex was waterlogged. Pavement dwellers and the homeless suffered the most owing to the overnight rain. Selvi Dharman who took shelter under the Perambur flyover, said: “I earn Rs.200 daily by helping to lay roads. I cannot afford renting a house. I stayed awake most of the night as the place was wet. I am planning to stay in a temple in Ayapakkam.”
Many residents of the hamlets along the coast in north Chennai were left homeless as the swell waves had damaged huts. For the third day, many fishing hamlets along the coastline were flooded. Seawater had entered several homes in fishing hamlets such as Chinnakuppam and Annai Sivagami Nagar, forcing people to take shelter in community halls and temples.
The rains worsened the condition of many battered roads, such as Madhavaram High Road, Ambedkar College Road, Vyasarpadi and Thyagappa Street at Korukkupet, in north Chennai. N. Manoharan, a resident of Korukkupet, said that the rains have damaged roads that were recently repaired. “I have to manage travelling on the potholed roads for another month before they are re-laid,” he added.
In southern parts of the city, power supply was suspended in many areas as a precautionary measure. For the 24 hours ending 8 a.m. on Friday, Tambaram recorded 4 cm of rainfall.
(With inputs from K.Lakshmi, Petlee Peter and K.Manikandan)