Tamil Nadu rains: 14 dead so far, red alert in 20 districts

The Meteorological Department has issued red alert for eight districts in Tamil Nadu — Chennai, Tiruvallur, Ranipet, Vellore, Salem, Kallakurichi, Tirupattur, and Tiruvannamalai — on Thursday as extremely heavy rainfall measuring above 20.4 cm is expected.

The heavy rains in Tamil Nadu claimed at least 14 lives. More rainfall is expected over the next few days, with a depression over the southwest Bay of Bengal moving towards the state’s northern coast.

Chennai airport has suspended all flights arriving between 1.15 and 6 pm in view of heavy rains. Departures will continue as scheduled. “Decision has been taken considering safety of passengers,” the airport said.

Due to heavy rains in the state capital, there have been traffic regulations and road damages across the city. Many subways and roads have been closed due to waterlogging.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Stalin spoke to ministers and special officers deputed to manage the rain-related issues in various districts and reviewed the situation with them, an official release said.

Stalin directed them to expedite the relief activities and ensure provision of quality food and medical facilities in relief camps, PTI news agency reported. He further wanted the authorities concerned to take steps to prevent crop loss.

Overall, 169 relief centres are operational, and floods have been cleared in 216 of around 400 areas, state government officials said. 14 of 16 flooded subways in the city have been cleared, authorities said.

Free food will be given at ‘Amma canteens’ and the Chennai Corporation will distribute food packets to communities in low-lying areas, Tamil Nadu ministers tweeted.

State revenue minister KKSSR Ramachandran on Wednesday said according to preliminary estimates, standing crops in 55,000 hectares in delta and other districts have been inundated with rainwater. Of this, crops in 3,500 hectares have been damaged, according to the minister.

Addressing a press conference in Chennai, the minister said, “Once the rain stops, the damages will be assessed and compensation paid accordingly.”

Stalin Thursday constituted a team of five ministers headed by Co-operation minister I Periyasamy to look into the extent of crop damage in the Delta region due to heavy rains in the state and provide relief to the farmers.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi expressed concern on Thursday over the incessant rains in Chennai and urged party workers to help in the relief-and-rescue work.

“The incessant rains in Chennai have become a cause for worry. Requesting our brothers and sisters in the state to follow all safety measures. And an appeal to Congress workers – please help in relief and rescue work. Take care, Chennai,” he wrote on Twitter.