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Cyclone Vardah headed for landfall, thousands evacuated in Tamil Nadu, Andhra

High alert has been sounded as cyclone Vardah, expected to make landfall near Chennai, may cause considerable damage to life and property in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2016 01:40 IST
KV Lakshmana
Waves rise high at the Ennore Beach in Chennai on Sunday, as Cyclone Vardah is likely to make landfall in the afternoon on Monday.
Waves rise high at the Ennore Beach in Chennai on Sunday, as Cyclone Vardah is likely to make landfall in the afternoon on Monday. (PTI)

Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh evacuated thousands of people from coastal areas and shut down educational institutions on Monday as a “very severe” cyclonic storm packing windspeed up to 120km per hour headed for landfall close to Chennai.

Ahead of Cyclone Vardah’s landfall, heavy rains pounded the entire north coastal Tamil Nadu and Nellore in southern Andhra Pradesh while waves as high as 20 feet lashed the coast.

Met officials said Cyclone Vardah – which means red rose -- has gained in speed and intensity on its journey across the Bay of Bengal, belying predictions it would weaken considerably.

Read | Live updates of Cyclone Vardah

S Balachandran, the director of the Chennai-based Area Cyclone Warning Centre, said the tropical storm will dump “heavy to very heavy rain” in many places of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, including its capital city which was battered by devastating floods in December last year.

On its way inland, Cyclone Vardah hit several islands in the Andamans last week, uprooting trees and electricity poles besides severely impacting tourism in the archipelago.

The Tamil Nadu government ordered shut all educational institutions in the coastal districts and advised private firms to allow their workers to opt for work from home or give them a day off.

Chief minister O Panneerselvam reviewed preparedness with key ministers and top officials at a meeting of the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority.

The army, navy, air force and coast guard have been put on standby for deployment.

Read More: Andhra govt braces for cyclone Vardah, CM cancels Gulf trip to monitor situation

All local bodies have also been put on alert and asked to make arrangements for supply of chlorinated drinking water including filling up overhead tanks.

More than 4500 people have been evacuated in four districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Villupuram and put up at 262 relief centres on Sunday night.

Several government schools have also been readied for use as cyclone relief centres while

10,000 rescue workers were on standby.

The danger level along the coast from north coastal Tamil Nadu to Nellore in Andhra Pradesh has been raised to the maximum 10, officials said.

Read: Vardah headed for landfall: 10 tips to survive a cyclone

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu also reviewed the situation through a teleconference with collectors and top officials on Sunday night.

Food and other essential commodities should be kept ready in adequate quantities, he said.

“Take all steps to prevent loss of lives and to minimise damages to crops and properties,” Naidu told the officials.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into sea along and off south Andhra Pradesh, north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts in the next 36 hours as sea conditions would be “rough to very rough”.

India’s cyclone season generally lasts from April to December, often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and widespread crop and property damage.

In 1999, a “super-cyclone” battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours with wind speeds reaching 300 kmph. It killed 10,000 people.

(With agency inputs)

Read More: Revisiting the super cyclone that hit Odisha in 1999