Five persons died in Chennai on Monday as heavy rains triggered by the approaching Cyclone Michaung battered the city, reported ANI.
The India Meteorological Department’s regional centre in Chennai has told residents to stay indoors as a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into a “severe cyclonic storm” on Monday evening. It will cross the South Andhra Pradesh coast on December 5 and make landfall between Nellore and Machilipatnam with wind speeds touching 100 kms per hour.
At least 10 coastal districts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha will bear the brunt of the cyclone for the next three days, The Indian Express reported.
“Its location is west-central adjoining South-West Bay of Bengal and is at a distance of 90 km East North-East of Chennai,” Regional Director Bhubaneswar Meteorological Office Habibur Rahman Biswas told PTI. “The movement of the storm will be northwards.”
The rains have left several housing localities and low-lying areas in Chennai flooded.
All schools in Andhra Pradesh have been closed for Monday while Tamil Nadu has declared a public holiday in Chennai and its adjoining districts Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram, The Indian Express reported.
The city’s airfield will also remain closed on Tuesday, the Chennai Airfield Authority said in a tweet.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said that his government was taking all necessary measures to provide relief to the residents, reported PTI.
“The government is taking all precautionary measures on a war footing in response to heavy rainfall over the last two days due to Cyclone Michaung causing devastation in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu districts,” he said.
The authorities are also relocating residents from low-lying areas to safer places, he said. The state government has set up 236 relief camps across eight locations in Tamil Nadu. Currently, 9,634 persons are taking shelter in the camps.
The meteorological department on Monday sounded “red alert” for the West Godavari, Konaseema, Nellore, Prakasam, Krishna, Bapatla, Guntur, Tirupati, Chittoor, Annamayya and YSR Kadapa districts in Andhra Pradesh, The Hindu reported. This indicates chances of “extremely heavy” rain in these regions, which is defined as between 200 to 250 millimetres of rain within 24 hours.
Five southern Odisha districts – Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati and Ganjam – were placed under a “yellow alert” on Monday indicating chances of less severe weather there.
The Hindu reported that flights to and from Chennai, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam have been disrupted while 40 trains from to and from Kerala were cancelled on Monday. Ten flights were also diverted from the Bengaluru airport. On Monday afternoon, flights at the Chennai airport were suspended until 11 pm.
Chennai metro rail trains were operational on Monday morning but commuters are contending with waterlogging and long queues at railway stations. Suburban train operations in the city have been suspended but a passenger special is being operated every hour on all suburban railway lines in the city.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is monitoring the situation and the Centre has begun coordinating relief and rescue efforts for Tuesday, PTI reported.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Stalin and Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy to inquire about the situation.
“Took stock of the measures taken to tackle the challenging weather conditions caused by the Cyclone Michaung,” Shah said in a tweet. “Assured them of all the necessary assistance from the Modi Government to secure lives. Adequate deployment of the NDRF [National Disaster Response Force] has already been made and additional teams are ready for further assistance.”
The state government has sought additional National Disaster Response Force personnel from the central government, reported The Hindu.
Last week, the National Crisis Management Committee had reviewed the preparedness of the state governments and central ministries and departments, PTI reported. The National Disaster Response Force has set up 18 teams for Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Puducherry and 10 additional teams have been kept on standby.
Rescue and relief teams of the Coast Guard, the Army and the Navy have also been kept on standby, the news agency reported.
The Weather Channel reported that Cyclone Michaung, a name suggested by Myanmar, is the Bay of Bengal’s fourth cyclone and the Indian Ocean’s sixth this year. The Indian Ocean typically sees four cyclones annually, usually after the monsoon season ends.