Cyclone uproots trees in Chennai; death toll rises to 10

Cyclone Vardah, which hit Chennai on Monday, was the worst cyclonic storm to strike the city in more than two decades.
Cyclone Vardah, which hit Chennai on Monday, was the worst cyclonic storm to strike the city in more than two decades.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHENNAI • The death toll from Cyclone Vardah in the southern Indian tech hub of Chennai has reached at least 10, with most victims crushed by trees uprooted by winds of up to 140kmh.

Vardah, which struck on Monday, forced the evacuation of at least 23,000 people and was declared by India's meteorological department the worst cyclonic storm to hit Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, in more than two decades.

Nuclear Power Corp of India, which has a monopoly on nuclear power production in the country, said that it shut one of its plants near Chennai after the cyclone made landfall.

However, the cyclone has not affected a bigger plant in Tamil Nadu, at Kudankulam, the company said.

Television footage from Chennai, where huge floods last year killed at least 250 people, showed cars overturned by the strong winds and heavy rain.

The National Disaster Management Authority warned fishermen not to venture out to sea for 36 hours after the storm hit, and urged residents to stay in safe places. It noted that the cyclone was weakening as it moved inland.

Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, have been on stand-by to help move people and deliver aid, a navy spokesman said.

Chennai is a centre for auto manufacturing and IT outsourcing.

It is scheduled to host the fifth Test cricket match between England and India, due to start on Friday. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association said the Test will go ahead despite severe damage to the Chepauk stadium, according to The Hindu newspaper.

Chennai International Airport was shut for almost 12 hours but resumed operations yesterday, an airport official said.

Train services have also partially resumed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Cyclone uproots trees in Chennai; death toll rises to 10'. Print Edition | Subscribe