Jayalalithaa releases Rs. 150 crore for immediate relief work

‘Thane,' the very severe cyclonic storm that crossed Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Friday morning, claimed 33 lives, and left behind a trail of destruction and human suffering.

Throwing life off course, the storm, which passed the coast north of Cuddalore at 6.30 a.m. at a speed of more than 125 km an hour, uprooted trees and electric posts, disrupted power supply and transport services and damaged homes and standing crops.

Twenty-six people were killed in Tamil Nadu and seven in Puducherry. Besides, hundreds were rendered homeless and forced into relief camps set up by the governments.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa released Rs. 150 crore towards immediate relief works.

While 21 persons died in Cuddalore district, two persons lost their lives in the neighbouring Villupuram district. One person each in Tiruvallur and Chennai were among the dead as strong wind and heavy rain lashed the coastal areas.

Ms. Jayalalithaa announced a solatium of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of the victims. Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangasamy said he had briefed Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the situation.

Around 6,000 persons in Cuddalore, Villupuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts and Chennai and low-level areas were shifted to shelters.

Fifteen fishermen who put out to sea in Thanjavur and Pudukottai districts were reported missing. The samba crop grown on 1,700 hectares in Thanjavur district and 2,000 hectares in Tiruvarur district suffered damage.

Ms. Jayalalithaa, who reviewed the situation with the Chief Secretary and other officials, sent five Ministers to five districts to oversee the relief works.

Secretaries of various departments and Collectors of the districts that bore the brunt of ‘Thane' have been asked to send a report to the government after assessing the damage.

Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force based in Arakkonam were sent to Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Chennai and Tiruvallur. As a precautionary measure, electricity supply had been cut in Cuddalore, Villupuram and Nagapattinam districts since Thursday evening.

The Chief Minister said she had asked officials to clear the uprooted trees to ensure a smooth flow of traffic and resume power supply by Friday evening.

Unprecedented damage

In Puducherry, the Chief Minister convened a meeting of his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials to assess the situation.

“Probably by this evening or by Saturday morning, we will be sending an interim report,” he told The Hindu. Though the damage could not be assessed now, he said, “it is unprecedented and heavy.”

“Initial reports suggest that the wind speed was around 130 to 140 km after 3 a.m. We haven't heard of such a calamity in the history of Puducherry,” he said.

Trains cancelled

Southern Railway cancelled six trains and partially cancelled three services. The arrival and departure of four international flights and more than 25 domestic flights were rescheduled.