The Government-run ports of Chennai and Ennore in Tamil Nadu, and the private port of Marg Karaikal in Puducherry are on high alert with the cyclonic storm Thane slowly moving towards the Tamil Nadu coast. All contingencies and security measures are in place to meet any eventualities from the cyclone, according to sources.

At the Chennai port, a storm warning flag signal number 9, which indicates ‘great danger,' has been hoisted. This means, the port will experience severe weather from a severe cyclone expected to move keeping the port to the right of its track.

At the Ennore port, flag number 9 has been hoisted indicating ‘great danger.'

Vessels evacuated

In anticipation of the cyclone, all vessels from the Chennai port were evacuated from Wednesday night. The vessels were moved to the outer anchorage for safety. A control tower has been set up, and all employees have been evacuated from the port. “We have completely cordoned off the port as there could be possibility of materials hurting people due to the strong wind,” said Mr Atulya Mishra, Chairman of the Chennai Port Trust.

At the Ennore port, no vessel is at the port, said an official.

The private container terminals at the Chennai port have ensured that the equipment and cranes are tied up to be secure. This will ensure that the equipment do not move during heavy wind.

Capt. Prasad Rebala, Senior-Vice President (Port Operations), Karaikal Port, said that all labourers have been evacuated from the port and small ships have been moved to secured place. One ship is waiting at the outer harbour while one more ship is streaming toward the high seas. At the nearby Nagapatinam port too things were under control, he said. Meanwhile, a morning weather bulletin from the India Meteorological Department says that the storm Thane over southwest Bay of Bengal moved west-southwestward and lay centred at 08.30 hours today near latitude 12.00N and longitude 82.50E, about 270 km east of Puducherry; 250 km east-southeast of Chennai and 420 km north-northeast of Trincomalee (Sri Lanka). The system is likely to move westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and Chennai, close to Puducherry around early morning of December 30.

Squally winds speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph is likely along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh coasts.

The wind speed will increase gradually becoming 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph along and off north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coast from tonight onwards.

Sea condition is very rough. It will gradually become very high to phenomenal along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh coasts.

The department said that there could be extensive damage to thatched roof and huts with minor damage to power and communication line due to uprooting of large avenue trees.

There could be flooding of escape routes. The storm is expected to damage the standing rice, groundnut and maize in coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and rice and groundnut in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

raja@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 29, 2011)
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