Nivar makes landfall, weakens to severe cyclonic storm

After making landfall in Puducherry, Cyclone Nivar weakens into severe cyclonic storm

The centre of the cyclone took three hours to cross the coast

Residents shelter from heavy rain under umbrellas while walking along a deserted road as cyclone Nivar approaches. Credit: AFP

Powerful Cyclone Nivar, packing estimated wind speeds of 120 to 130 kmph, made its landfall as a very severe cyclonic storm near Puducherry coast in the wee hours of Thursday. The centre of the cyclone took three hours to cross the coast, the Indian Meteorological Department said in an update at around 3.30 am.

The terse update said the centre of the cyclone, which travelled at a speed of 16 km per hour, began its landfall at 11.30 pm on Wednesday and completed at 2.30 am on Thursday. After landing, the very severe cyclonic storm weakened into a severe cyclonic storm. "It would continue to move north-westwards and weaken further into a cyclonic storm in the next six hours, the IMD added.

Track live updates on Cyclone Nivar here

Cyclone Nivar is understood to have landed in Marakkanam in Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu, 40 km from Puducherry. At least one woman died in Marakkanam due to the cyclone, Villupuram MP D Ravikumar wrote on his verified Twitter page.

The extent of the damage caused by the cyclone is yet to be known.

Besides massive efforts by the governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, two warships – INS Sumitra and INS Jyoti – are on stand-by for assistance in the aftermath of the cyclone, while the Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard also made elaborate arrangements to provide succour to the people after the landfall.

Apart from state disaster response teams, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has pre-positioned 19 teams in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, while over 465 ambulances were kept ready in the state. With the landfall area likely to be around Puducherry, focus is now on the UT and Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, which is prone to cyclones.

Over 1.20 lakh people living in low-lying areas and places vulnerable to flooding were evacuated and lodged in 1,455 relief centres across Tamil Nadu, while 2,000 were moved to such camps in neighbouring Puducherry. Road traffic between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry also came to a halt.

Commissioner of Revenue Administration K Phanindra Reddy told DH that 1.21 lakh people across the state have been lodged in 1,455 relief centres.

“We have kept 4,733 relief centres ready across the state that can house nearly 13 lakh people. We are prepared to tackle the cyclone and at this moment we also want people to stay indoors,” he said. Officials said physical distancing is being maintained at all relief centres while Covid-19 testing will be done for people who display symptoms.

The city of Chennai looked like a ghost town on Wednesday as major roads witnessed heavy water-logging due to torrential rains that began early Tuesday. As the city was on the edge, Chennai Traffic Police closed down all major roads in the city and asked people to remain indoors. The Chennai International Airport also suspended its operation for 12 hours – from 7 pm on Wednesday to 7 am on Thursday, while Southern Railway cancelled close to 30 trains.

Tamil Nadu government extended the public holiday to Thursday in 16 districts as it kept ready equipment and personnel to clear the roads as the cyclone is expected to uproot trees.