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Cyclone Michaung's Fury: Evacuations, Office Closures, and Transportation Chaos Amidst Severe Weather Disruption

IMD predicts Cyclone Michaung's landfall on the coast of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday morning.
Cyclone Michaung in Chennai

Chennai: Commuters on a waterlogged road during heavy rain owing to Cyclone Michaung, on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)

New Delhi: The city of Chennai and its neighbouring districts are facing severe disruptions as heavy rains and strong winds persist, signalling the imminent landfall of Cyclone Michaung. Authorities have taken preemptive measures, including the closure of school offices and suspension of flight operations, while evacuations are underway in flooded areas.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts Cyclone Michaung's landfall on the coast of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday morning. Visuals circulating on social media depict submerged cars in residential parking spaces, emphasising the extensive flooding. According to a report in The Indian Express,  Five Furlong Road, connecting Guindy and Velachery, has collapsed, and a nearby petrol pump's roof sustained damage due to relentless rain.

The power supply has been severely affected, leaving several residents without electricity for the past 24 hours. Flight services have also taken a hit, with delays reported for several departing and arriving flights at Chennai airport, which has been closed for arrival operations until 11 pm.

In response to the impending disaster, Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena declared a public holiday in four districts—Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur, and Kancheepuram. The order, issued under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881, cited the likelihood of heavy rainfall and strong winds in these districts. “All government offices, including the offices of public undertakings/corporation boards, banks of financial institutions, etc, in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu districts will be closed on Monday,” the order read.

The Tamil Nadu government has urged private companies to enable work-from-home options for employees, advising physical presence only for essential tasks. However, essential services, hotels, restaurants, and disaster response units will continue to operate as usual.

Tamil Nadu Minister for Municipal Administration K N Nehru visited the Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) at Ripon Building in Chennai to oversee relief and rescue efforts. The state government appointed 17 IAS officers to monitor flood mitigation and rescue works in Chennai, Tambaram, and Avadi corporations.

The Greater Chennai Corporation has issued an extreme rainfall alert, urging people to stay indoors. The latest weather bulletin reports significant rainfall in various zones, with Perungudi (Zone 14) recording the highest at 29 cm in the last 24 hours.

As of now, 17 subways are closed, and efforts are underway to remove 16 fallen trees. In Tambaram and other areas, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is conducting rescue operations, having already evacuated 697 people to relief centres.

The residents have been provided with emergency contact numbers—1913 for Chennai Corporation, 1800 425 4355/1800 425 1600 for Tambaram Corporation, and 1800 425 5109 for Avadi Corporation.

In a separate update, the Southern Railway reported the suspension of train services due to water flowing above the danger level and the closure of 14 subways in the city. Additionally, at the airport, both domestic and international services faced cancellations and delays.

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