Flash floods at Ambur in Vellore district claimed five lives, including those of a six-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy.
One person was reported missing as Fire and Rescue Services personnel and police launched relief operations.
Heavy rain that started at 10 p.m. on Tuesday continued till 4 a.m. on Wednesday. Rescue operations were hampered by flooding. Those living along the banks of the Kaanaar river were the most affected.
Three of the dead were of the same family: Munni (25), her daughter Shanu and her son Akbar. The fate of Munni’s husband, Amanullah, was not knownInayatullah (16), a standard XI student belonging to another family, was washed away in the floods. The body of a 30-year-old unidentified man was found.
Police said the five people who have been reported dead were asleep when their homes were flooded. They were residing in an area adjoining the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) flats at Ambur. According to one estimate, over 300 houses were damaged.
Excess water from the catchments in Nayakaneri near Ambur flowed into the Kaanaar due to the heavy rain. “Such a situation occurs frequently. But this is the first time people have been washed away,” residents pointed out.
Many areas including Rafiq Nagar, Anna Nagar, Shafeeq Nagar and Mookakollai were affected. People who were marooned were moved to safer areas. Several huts collapsed. The heavy rain and the resultant run-off from the adjacent hills flooded the drainage canal resulting in water entering houses.
Officials involved in the rescue operation said relief materials including rice, kerosene and dhotis were distributed to 217 people on Wednesday morning. The rescue operation got delayed due to the heavy downpour. Headlights of heavy vehicles were used to enhance visibility for the rescue operation as power supply had been disrupted.
People settled on the banks of Kaanaar had been warned of the flood situation. Many of them had been issued pattas for settlement on the foothills of Nayakaneri, but the residents were reluctant to settle down on the foothills of Nayakaneri because of the distance to Ambur town.
Ambur town recorded the highest rainfall of 145 mm during the 24 hours ending 8.30 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by Vaniyambadi, 115 mm; Vellore, 72.6 mm; Alangayam, 65 mm; Melalathur, 24.4 mm; Gudiyatham, 22.2 mm; Walajapet, 21 mm; Arcot, 13.5 mm; and Tirupattur, 13 mm.
Vellore Collector C.Rajendran, Superintendent of Police (SP) N.Arivuselvam, Additional Deputy Superintendent of Police L.Ramadoss and Vaniyambadi MLA Abdul Baasith were among those who supervised the rescue operations. The Collector promised relief measures to all those affected by the flood.