Cyclone Michaung | Chennai, surrounding areas marooned as Michaung wreaks havoc

Two killed as torrential rain pounds Tamil Nadu capital; over 9,600 people moved to camps; 300 flights, several long-distance trains cancelled; Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, offers all help from Centre

December 04, 2023 10:33 pm | Updated December 05, 2023 11:05 am IST - Chennai

As heavy rains lashed the city from Sunday night and all of Monday, most city roads were completely underwater. TNDRF volunteers are seen deploying a boat to rescue people to safe areas from the flooding waters overflowing from Narayana Puram to Medavakkam lake.

As heavy rains lashed the city from Sunday night and all of Monday, most city roads were completely underwater. TNDRF volunteers are seen deploying a boat to rescue people to safe areas from the flooding waters overflowing from Narayana Puram to Medavakkam lake. | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

Pounded by relentless rain under the impact of Cyclone Michaung, Chennai and its neighbouring districts were marooned on December 4, reviving haunting memories of the December 2015 floods. Two persons were killed and two more were feared dead in cyclone-related incidents in the city, as per preliminary reports.

The Chennai airport shut down its airfield for arrival and departure operations till 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Around 300 flights were cancelled and more than 1,500 passengers were stranded. The Southern Railway too cancelled several long-distance trains and trains coming to the city were terminated at Chengalpattu, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers.

Cyclone Michaung tracker December 4, 2023

Waterbodies were brimming and the release of surplus water from the reservoirs challenged the city’s infrastructure. Normal life came to a standstill as power supply was suspended as precautionary measure since late on Sunday night. Over 9,600 people from northern coastal districts were moved to 236 relief camps in eight places. The Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) aided State agencies, including the Fire and Rescue Services and police personnel, in the relief and rescue operations.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah called Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on telephone to get a briefing on the situation and offered all help from the Centre. Mr Stalin sought deployment of additional NDRF personnel to deal with the calamity. He also deputed 13 Ministers to oversee relief and rescue operations, besides deploying more senior IAS officers on the field. The government also declared a holiday for educational institutions on Tuesday and advised private companies to permit employees to work from home.

A weather bulletin issued past 9 p.m. said that the severe cyclonic storm, Michaung (pronounced Migjaum), over westcentral and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal off south Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coasts moved north-northwestwards with a speed of 10 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 5.30 p.m. over westcentral Bay of Bengal off south Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coasts about 80 km southeast of Nellore, 120 km north-northeast of Chennai, 210 km south of Bapatla and 250 km south-southwest of Machilipatnam.

It is likely to move nearly northwards parallel and close to south Andhra Pradesh coast and cross south Andhra Pradesh coast between Nellore and Machilipatnam, close to Bapatla, during the forenoon of December 5 as a severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph.

Almost all neighbourhoods were flooded and authorities were battling SOS calls as the rain showed no signs of stopping through the day. Weathermen said relief could be expected only past Monday midnight.

Several localities in the suburbs went under a sheet of water prompting residents to move to higher floors or make SOS calls. In quite a few streets and apartment complexes, parked cars and other vehicles were either marooned or seen floating or being washed away by the force of gushing water. The Army and the NDRF rescued residents in boats in some areas.

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