Red alert issued in India’s Tamil Nadu as rain continues to batter southern state

Indian Meteorological Department issues 'heavy to very heavy' rainfall warning in state capital Chennai

Indian authorities have issued a red alert for southern Tamil Nadu state as heavy rainfall battered several parts of the coastal region 10 days after record rainfall triggered major flooding that killed 14 people.

The Indian Meteorological Department has issued a “heavy to very heavy” rainfall warning in the state capital Chennai and six other districts for the next 24 hours.

A “heavy rainfall” warning has also been issued for the coastal areas of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state.

The latest rainfall was triggered by a low pressure front that formed following a depression over the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, said Dr S Balachandran, the state's deputy director-general of meteorology.

“The rainfall is due to a very slow movement of low pressure which formed over south-east Bay of Bengal. It has moved [within] 210 kilometres of Chennai now,” Dr Balachandran told The National.

“We can expect heavy to very heavy rainfall in various pockets of the state in the next 24 hours,” he added.

The weather department has warned of strong winds and “rough to very rough” sea conditions over the south-west and adjoining central-west Bay of Bengal along Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and along the southern coasts of Andhra Pradesh over the next 24 hours.

Chennai received 22.1 millimetres of rain overnight while Thiruvallur recorded the highest level of rainfall, with 64mm reported on Thursday.

Dr Balachandran said the state has already recorded 48 centimetres of rainfall this month and could receive a further 4cm more in tomorrow's downpour.

Schools and educational institutions in 21 districts have been shut due to the heavy rains.

Videos on social media and television footage showed waist-deep water in Chennai and vehicles semi-submerged in stagnant water. A flood-like situation was reported in Tirunelveli, where an entire bus station was inundated with water.

The state government opened two spillway shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam after water levels rose to about 43 metres. The dam is located in Kerala but is managed by the Tamil Nadu government.

Authorities in Chennai have deployed manpower for quick relief and rescue activities and 600 heavy-duty water pumps. They have kept 50 boats on standby for rescue and relief work in case of floods.

The state has been witnessing the highest level of rainfall since December 2015 when intense rains triggered flooding that killed more than 400 people and displaced more than 1.8 million.

On November 7, at least 14 people were killed after heavy rainfall lashed several parts of the state, triggering landslides and floods.

Updated: November 18th 2021, 7:04 PM