Chennai, Dec. 30: Cyclone Thane this morning hit the Tamil Nadu coast leading to the death of 33 people in the state and neighbouring Puducherry where the maximum rainfall recorded was 15cm.
The cyclone made landfall around 6.30 after gathering strength for the last three days. In some places, wind speeds touched 120kmph.
According to a PTI report, the highest number of deaths — 21 — was reported from Cuddalore, about 170km from Chennai. Seven persons died in Puducherry from electrocution and wall collapses. Villupuram and Tiruvallur in Tamil Nadu reported two deaths each, and Chennai one.
Even after crossing the coast, it is persisting as a cyclone near Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu but will gradually weaken into a low pressure system, said S.R. Ramanan, the director of meteorology at Chennai. He said the city and its nearby districts would experience showers for the next 24 hours.
PTI quoted a weather bulletin as saying that rainfall would be heavy over north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the next 12 hours and over north interior Tamil Nadu during next 24 hours. Heavy to very heavy rainfall would also occur over southern coastal Andhra Pradesh in the next 12 hours and over Rayalaseema, north Kerala and south Karnataka during the next 24 hours, the bulletin read.
Strong winds have uprooted nearly two lakh trees across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, causing massive traffic obstructions. A PTI report said that in Cuddalore the roadblocks because of uprooted trees was hindering movement of rescue teams. District collector Amuthavalli said over 5,000 houses of fishermen were damaged.
In the stretch between Chennai and Nagapattinam, 200 fishing hamlets were inundated. The same stretch had suffered severely in the December 2004 tsunami.
In eight coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, thousands of acres of farmland with standing crop got submerged.
Many trains to and from Chennai were delayed today, a few cancelled.
Over 50 flights in and out of Chennai were delayed. A few Chennai-bound flights were diverted to Bangalore.
The cyclone has upset the New Years Eve plans of hotels that had been booked full for Saturday night. Flooded roads and persistent rain are dampers for New Year parties and we are praying that the weather will ease by Saturday morning, said K. Pradeep, the banquet manager of a leading five star hotel.