The heavy rains that lashed several parts of Tamil Nadu since the onset of North-East monsoon early this month have claimed a total of 56 lives so far, including five in the last 24 hours, a senior government official said in Chennai on Wednesday.
The deaths were mainly due to wall collapse, electrocution and other rain-related incidents, relief commissioner, R Santhanam, told PTI.
Nearly 1,900 huts had been either partially or fully damaged in the rains, which started on October 1 and gathered momentum in the past one week.
Santhanam said till Tuesday, a total of 21,500 people had been evacuated to safer places in Tiruchirappalli, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Villupuram districts.
"These people are being looked after by the district administration, which gave them food packets," he said.
Pointing out that the district administrative machineries had been put on 'high alert,' he said nearly 400 to 500 people in Mudalaimedu Thittu in Nagapattinam district, who were marooned after rain water entered their village, were rescued with boats and moved to safer places.
Santhanam said the average rainfall had come down since Monday, helping the district administration to carry on the rescue and relief operations.
The rains have also forced cancellation of several trains on the Chennai-Bangalore-Chennai route, while some other trains have been diverted via Salem and Dharmapuri, railway sources said. The Shatabdi Express trains to Bangalore and Mysore have been cancelled.
A Salem report said trunk roads had been partially damaged due to the heavy rainfall and that some buses to Bangalore had been diverted to reach the Karnataka capital via Bhagalur.
Relief operations are in full swing. More than 600 families who had lost their homes were provided shelter and food packets distributed to them, the report said, adding that revenue officials were assessing the damage to crops.
The water level in the Mettur reservoir stood at 120.920 feet this morning against its capacity of 120 feet.
There was reduced inflow of 1,15,954 cusecs, while the outflow was 91,365 cusecs.
A report from Porayar said many parts of Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts experienced intermittent rains since Tuesday night. Some tsunami shelters, particularly in low lying areas, were waterlogged. However, agriculture operations were going on in full swing, it said.
The Nagapattinam Collector Dr J Radhakrishnan visited many temporary shelters in the district and also some coastal
villages and assured people of all possible steps for their safe stay.
The administration continued to monitor activities in 11 villages on the banks of the Coleroon. Following a flood alert given by the administration, most people had moved to safer places, the report said.
A Tiruchirapalli report said several parts of the district, which remained flooded due to breaches on the banks of the Cauvery and Uyyakondan and Malatar channels, were slowly returning to normal, with water levels receding in both the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers.
Officials said all the breaches had been sealed.
Almost all schools and colleges in the Chintamani and chattiram area were inundated by flood waters, and officials were working round the clock to clear them, the report said.
In several parts of Tiruchirapalli and the temple town of Srirangam and Tiruvanaikovil, power supply had not been restored for more than 30 hours. No traffic was being allowed on Coleroon old bridge as the water level was at the danger mark.
Public Works Department officials said encroachment along channels, dumping of plastic waste into them and illegal sand mining had resulted in the flood situation and demanded that encroachments be removed forthwith.
A ceiling should be brought about on sand mining.
District officials should instruct wedding hall owners and hoteliers not to dispose waste into the channels, they said.