All roads to Kodaikanal were completely blocked following landslides at 13 places on the Kodaikanal-Batlagundu ghat road and Kodaikanal-Thandigudi-Batlagundu hill road on Tuesday.

Torrential showers battered the hill station in the last 24 hours, snapping road connectivity to hundreds of villages on the hill roads. Huge boulders fell on the Kodaikanal- Batlagundu Road in the early hours of Tuesday, and vehicles could not proceed beyond Dum Dum Rock.

The Highways Department had earlier closed traffic on Palani-Kodaikanal ghat road after a massive landslide near Saverikadu village recently. It has started the construction of a permanent structure to prevent further landslides in this village.

On Tuesday the Highways Department deployed over 100 workers to clear the debris, but the work was delayed because of difficulties in bringing earth moving equipment to the landslide spot.

Intermittent showers during the day too disrupted the work.

Tourists who came to the hill station were stranded. They had a tough time with hotels hiking their rates. Bus services to the hill station were cancelled in the morning as Batlagundu-Thandigudi road, the only alternative route to Kodaikanal, was also blocked.

In other developments, the Water Resources Department started releasing excess water from the Vaigai Dam after the level touched 69 feet, two feet short of the full level.

Considering the flow in the Vaigai river, the authorities moderated the discharge from the dam. In the afternoon, they released around 2,000 cubic feet per second. The WRD's executive engineer S. Vijayakumar, however, said that as Varashanadu area, a catchment of the dam, witnessed rain in the evening, the inflow might go up in the night, in which case the discharge would be increased.

The huge flow of water in the Vaigai river submerged all the causeways in Madurai city. The city police had put up barricades on either side of the causeways to prevent people from getting closer to the gushing water.

Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi issued an appeal to members of his party and functionaries of local bodies to cooperate with government officials in the flood relief works.

According to a senior official in Chennai, 71 people have died in the State because of rains since October 1.

(With inputs from K. Raju in Dindigul and S. Sundar in Madurai)

More In: Tamil Nadu | National