Cyclone Nivar begins its onslaught
- Yet to make landfall; likely between TN-Puducherry coast
- Flights, trains, buses halted; Over 1 lakh people evacuated
New Delhi/Chennai: Severe cyclonic storm Nivar will intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm over the next few hours and cross the coast between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry early on Thursday, the India Meteorological Department said.
Under its influence, gusty winds and rains lashed parts of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday leaving several areas inundated and authorities have housed over one lakh people in shelters as 'Nivar' hurtled towards the coast.
While Chief Minister K Palaniswami declared Thursday a public holiday for 13 districts, a government order included three more districts considering the safety of people in view of the cyclone.
As a precautionary measure, electricity distribution was stopped to consumers in several regions falling under such districts and especially areas that have overhead power transmission lines witnessed power cut since noon.
Police personnel placed barricades in arterial roads and important intersections in coastal districts to bar movement of vehicles and the government appealed to the people to stay indoors.
Chennai airport authorities said Aircraft operations at the airport will remain suspended from 7pm of November 25 till 7am of November 26. The decision was taken considering the safety aspect of passengers and the severity of the approaching cyclone, they said.
Southern Railway said eight trains including the Danapur - KSR Bengaluru Special were diverted skipping Chennai and 10 trains including the Chennai Central-Coimbatore Special were cancelled.
The Chennai Metro Rail, which operated minimum services, said operations would end by 8 pm and services would resume on Thursday depending on the weather.
The storm, 250 km off Chennai and 190 km and 180 km from Puducherry and Cuddalore respectively, is very likely to move northwestwards and cross coasts as a "very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph."
Under the influence of the cyclone, coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kariakal regions are likely to receive rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy showers at a few places and extremely heavy rains at isolated places.
"Even after the landfall, the system is likely to maintain its cyclonic intensity for about 6 hours and weaken gradually," the weather office said in its bulletin.