The “very severe” cyclonic storm “Thane” hit Puducherry on early Friday morning with a devastating force killing seven persons, including a two-year-old child and two women, and left behind a trail of destruction to public and private property.
The region got cut off from the neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu till in the evening as hundreds of uprooted trees blocked roads and power supply completely disrupted.
Gusty winds started battering the territory till late Thursday evening and got intensified on the wee hours of Friday. Six people were killed as uprooted trees destructed their houses and collapsed the wall. One person drowned. A foreign national identified as Pascal, who was staying in a farm house also died, officials in the Revenue Department said.
The nativity of Pascal is yet to be identified, police said adding that they are waiting for the arrival of his wife from Bangalore. At least four persons sustained injuries. More than 1700 people have been shifted to community centres and schools. The Revenue Department supplied more than 1.5 lakh food packets to those living in shelter homes and affected areas.
Hundreds of huts have been completely damaged due to the gusty wind and tidal waves surging up to 1.5 metre, mainly in the fishing hamlets, but the exact number and extent of damage could be assessed only after a few days, they said.
Though it was too early to make any assessment on damage to agriculture land and crop loss, the authorities expect a substantial loss.
Power supply disrupted
Wind speed up to 130 kilometres per hour toppled majority of electric posts, damaging transformers leading to power outage from late Thursday night. Authorities in the Electricity Department said the damage was so extensive that it would take days to restore power supply in most of the areas.
It would take at least two to three days to bring normalcy as hundreds of trees are still lying on the main thoroughfares. Personnel belonging to Fire Service, Public Works Department and Local Administration have been pressed into service to remove the uprooted trees but their task would be difficult owing to shortage of cutting machines.
The local agencies were being assisted by a contingent from the National Disaster Relief Force, New Delhi, officials said.
Home minister briefed
Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangasamy held a telephonic conversation with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and briefed him about the situation. In the evening, the Chief Minister chaired a high level meeting to assess the situation. After the meeting he announced a solatium of Rs. 2 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the cyclone.
The Chief Minister outlined the immediate priorities including relief to those housed in shelter homes, restoration of power supply and clearing of trees and debris from roads. An interim report detailing about the damage and also seeking a compensation package would be send to the Union Home Ministry very shortly, sources said.