Tamil Nadu Rains: Rescue Operations Underway As Four Flooded Districts In State Remain Cut Off

Tamil Nadu Rains: Rescue Operations Underway As Four Flooded Districts In State Remain Cut Off

Train and flight services were suspended, and over 500 passengers, including women and children on board the Chennai-bound Tiruchendur Express, were stranded overnight in Srivaikuntam railway station after a portion of the railway track was washed away

N ChithraUpdated: Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 12:47 AM IST
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Tamil Nadu rains | Photo: Representative Image

Dramatic rescue, relief, and rehabilitation operations were being undertaken in four southern districts of Tamil Nadu, which were marooned and cut off from the rest of the State following historic rains on Sunday and Monday. Several reservoirs in the south were overflowing, and the Tamirabarani river, the lifeline of Tirunelveli and Tenkasi districts, was in spate discharging a massive one lakh cusecs of water. While there was massive damage to property, until Monday evening, the State Government had not released official figures of any human casualties. The Indian Army and Air Force were set to join the rescue operations, even as Navy helicopters rescued people, including a pregnant woman.

Chennai-Bound Train Stranded in Floods; Airdrop Planned for Passengers

Train and flight services were suspended, and over 500 passengers, including women and children on board the Chennai-bound Tiruchendur Express, were stranded overnight in Srivaikuntam railway station after a portion of the railway track was washed away. At the time of filing this report, the administration said it was being planned to airdrop food to the passengers.

Helicopters and boats have been pressed into service to rescue people stranded in Thoothukudi, one of the worst-hit coastal districts, Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari, and Tenkasi, as the State Government grappled with the second massive flooding incident this month. Less than a fortnight ago, the Tamil Nadu Capital, Chennai, and its neighboring districts were marooned in the impact of torrential rains.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin would air dash to New Delhi on Tuesday to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to brief him about the calamity as well as seek monetary relief for the Chennai floods.

Floods Submerge Southern Tamil Nadu; Rescue Efforts Hindered, Properties Damaged

Aerial video footage showed that almost the entire region was underwater. Vehicles parked outside homes and on the roads in many places in the four districts were washed away or submerged in water. There were reports about some houses collapsing like a pack of cards.

In Virudhunagar district too, flooding and heavy rains were reported. Pilgrims had to be rescued from the Sathuragiri hills.

“At many places, people were being pulled to safety using ropes by rescue personnel, including those from the NDRF and SDRF. The current is strong. Electricity supply has been suspended to prevent incidents of electrocution. We do not have access to essential commodities. I heard even in Tirunelveli main town the flyover in Vannarpettai was almost submerged. The situation is bad. We don’t know when the water would recede. But with water entering numerous homes, the loss to property is extensive,” said Joseph, over the phone from Palayamkottai, a main town in Tirunelveli district.

Reports reaching Chennai indicated that relief operations were hampered as in some places the control room and administrative buildings were marooned. “Help is not easily forthcoming as the administration is grappling with hundreds of distress calls. Besides, the rescue personnel are unable to reach the marooned areas,” said Jebanesan, a resident of Thoothukudi.

Unlike the Chennai floods where the administration had information of the cyclone beforehand, the Government was not forewarned about the historic rains. “Imagine 90 cms of rain pounding a place like Kayalpattinam in Thoothukudi overnight. Many places recorded rains of 60 cms. The overall rain in a day in the region was 95 cms. We have never heard of this before. All reservoirs are overflowing. We had no time to regulate the release of water. Everything here looks like an island,” said an official in the southern district.

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