Chennai, Dec 12: Two persons were killed as heavy rains accompanied by high velocity winds today pounded the city and coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu due to severe cyclonic storm "Vardah" which began making landfall near here, uprooting hundreds of trees, disrupting land and air transport and throwing normal life out of gear.
"The landfall process of cyclone Vardah has begun," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. According to M Mohapatra, Additional Director General (Services) of IMD, the "eye" of the Cyclone is 20 kms off Chennai.
"The wind speed near Chennai 90-100 kmph. Heavy rains and storm surge is expected. Landfall process has commenced at 2 PM.
The cyclone will cross between 2-5 PM," Mohapatra said. Power supply was suspended in many parts of these regions as a precautionary measure.
About 8,000 people from low lying areas in north Chennai, Pazhaverkadu in Tiruvallur district and villages off Mamallapuram, in Kanchipuram district were safely evacuated to 95 relief shelters, officials said.
Flight operations at the airport here have been suspended till 5 PM. Long distance buses have been stalled and traffic came to a grinding halt in most areas with uprooted trees and electric poles blocking the roads.
All suburban train services have also been suspended. Southern Railway announced cancellation of all 17 trains originating from Chennai central, as well as Egmore.
State Principal Secretary (Revenue Administration) K Satyagopal said "human loss is two", without elaborating. In a statement, he said 260 trees and 37 electric poles had fallen and 190 tress removed. As many 224 roads were blocked and 24 huts damaged.