Cyclone Thane toll now 46, life limps back to normalcy

Chennai, December 31: The deaths due to cyclone Thane that hit the Tamil Nadu coast Friday morning went up by nine to 46 Saturday. Though life started limping back to normalcy in the worst affected Cuddalore district, people were poised to usher in the New Year in darkness.

On Saturday, nine more deaths were reported in three districts of Cuddalore (5), Kanchipuram (3) and Theni (1) in accidents caused by heavy rains.

Expressing her deep grief and condolences to the members of the nine bereaved families, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa said she had ordered release of Rs.200,000 each to the families.

With this, the district-wise deaths in Tamil Nadu are: Cuddalore (26), Villupuram (2), Tiruvallur (2), Kanchipuram (3), and Theni and Chennai one each.

Apart from the 35 deaths in Tamil Nadu, four deaths were reported in Kerala and seven in Puducherry mainly due to electrocution, falling of trees and collapse of roofs or walls.

Meanwhile, life was limping back to normalcy in Cuddalore.

‘Major roads are being cleared of uprooted trees and traffic has resumed. People are returning to their homes or going to the homes of their relatives from relief camps. Life is coming back to normalcy,’ Cuddalore Deputy Superintendent of Police S. Vanitha told IANS.

Several trees, street lamp posts and electric poles were uprooted Friday at Cuddalore by the cyclone that packed a wind speed of 140 kmph when it crossed the coast.

‘There is no power in the district, which in turn is making supply of water at homes a problem. We are not able to draw water from the wells. Supply of milk was there this (Saturday) morning,’ a housewife in Cuddalore told IANS.

According to a district administration official, 50 percent power supply is expected to be restored Sunday and water is supplied to the people in tankers.

The hospitals in the district are using diesel gensets for power supply.

J. Kannan, another Cuddalore resident, said: ‘For bachelors like me, life is difficult as hotels have not opened and shopkeepers are charging astronomical prices even for biscuit packets. A litre of milk is sold at Rs.50 — more than double the rates charged normally.’

‘A candle costing Rs.2 is now sold at Rs.10. There is no power in the district and the shopkeepers are making huge profits,’ he said.

Officials said it would take at least two days more to restore power supply in the district as most of the electric poles have been uprooted by the cyclonic wind.

Banking operations in the district have also been affected in the absence of power.

‘ATMs (automatic teller machines) do not work. Further, it is the month-end, people will be in need of money,’ an official of a public sector bank told IANS.

‘Glass panes were shattered and DTH (direct-to-home) antennas were blown away by the wind. Strong winds blew away tiled and thatched roofs of houses,’ he added.

Most people said the wind intensity was so terrifying that nobody was able to step out Friday morning.

Jayalalithaa Friday ordered release of Rs.150 crore towards relief and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in the state.

In Puducherry too, efforts are on to clear the uprooted trees, electric poles, lampposts.

Power supply is expected to be restored in a couple of days.

An official of Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) told IANS that the hospital is using generator to take care of the power needs and there is no problem.