Chennai airport closed for 12 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday. Metro services too will be suspended. Over one lakh people have been evacuated from the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry authorities said ahead of Cyclone Nivar’s landfall.
Coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are bracing for Cyclone Nivar, which has intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and is barrelling towards the southeast coast. The powerful cyclone is expected to hit the coast, likely near Puducherry, by midnight or early tomorrow, the Met department said.
The cyclone could hit the coast between Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu (which is around 56 km from state capital Chennai) and Karaikal in Puducherry. Nivar has brought with it heavy rain and strong winds in coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Public holiday in 13 TN districts
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to assure the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments – both have said today is a public holiday – of all possible support. A public holiday has been declared tomorrow in 13 districts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, Chief Minister E Palaniswami said.
The cyclone will bring extremely heavy rainfall and winds between 120 and 130 km per hour, with gusts of up to 145 km per hour, the Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai has advised, adding that coastal areas could receive heavy rain till tomorrow. 1,000 cusecs surplus water will be released from the Chembarambakkam lake outside Chennai this noon.
The discharge is likely to increase the water flow in Chennai’s Adyar river and people living in low-lying areas along the river are being evacuated. Authorities, however, said there is no need for panic at the moment. Around 2,000 people have been evacuated to higher grounds from Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district.
Bus services in seven Tamil Nadu districts have been suspended. The state government has said that those involved in essential services will continue to work.
Chief Minister Palaniswami appealed to people to stay indoors as far as possible and said over 4,000 “vulnerable” locations had been identified and local officials have been told to ensure peoples’ safety.
Over one lakh people evacuated
Over one lakh people have been evacuated from the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in order to “tide over the worst challenge” put up by Cyclone Nivar that is expected to make a landfall in the early hours of Thursday, the NDRF chief said on Wednesday.
The National Disaster Response Force has earmarked a total of 50 teams — with 30 being deployed on the ground in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh — in view of the cyclone moving ahead from the Bay of Bengal towards the coastal areas.
Twenty teams have been kept on standby at Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh), Cuttack (Odisha) and Thrissur (Kerala). SN Pradhan, the director general of the federal disaster response force, said all preparations have been done to “tide over the worst challenge that is put up by the cyclone”.
“As per reports last received, the cyclone may make a landfall a little later than earlier predicted and it could be after 2-3 am on Thursday or on November 26,” Pradhan said in a recorded audio-visual message. The speed is going to be that of a very severe cyclonic storm which is 130-145 kms per hour with gusting winds, he said.
The landfall is expected to take place between Mamallapuram and Karaikal. “As per latest reports, more than one lakh people have been evacuated across Tamil Nadu and in Puducherry about 1,000-2,000 people have been evacuated by the local authorities and the NDRF,” he said.