Tamil Nadu rains: Work to rescue stranded Tamil Nadu train passengers on; Army pitches in

On Monday night, troops assisted the rescue of over 100 people, including 54 women, a pregnant lady, and 19 children near Thoothukudi.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 19, 2023 | 12:05 PMUpdatedDec 19, 2023 | 1:39 PM

Army rescuing the stranded train passengers

After about 800 passengers were stranded at Srivaikuntam in southern Tamil Nadu on Monday, 18 December, owing to heavy rains in the region, an official told PTI on Tuesday that the work to rescue them is “going on” and the exercise will be completed as soon as possible.

Elsewhere, the Army assisted in the evacuation of people from flood-hit areas and provided them with medical care.

Though rainfall activity has almost come to a halt in most parts of southern Tamil Nadu, the inundation is still heavy, which continues to affect normalcy.

Defence personnel, by using helicopter have commenced rescue of train passengers stranded in flood-hit southern Tamil Nadu, an official said.

Tamil Nadu floods: 39 places recorded extremely heavy rainfall

Rescue operation

A railway official in Madurai said that the NDRF, Air Force, railway, and local authorities are coordinating the rescue work. The passengers, stranded since the early hours of Monday, spent the night in train coaches at Srivaikuntam railway station.

At Srivaikuntam railway station, rope and accessories needed to lift people, were lowered from the chopper and several passengers, including a boy, were brought inside the helicopter.

“The work has commenced, passengers are being rescued,” a Southern Railway official said in Chennai.

Food packets dropped by an IAF chopper have been distributed to passengers by Railway Protection Force personnel.

All arrangements are in place including buses to take the passengers to Vanchi Maniyacchi railway station, 38 km away from Srivaikuntam. A special train will be operated to Chennai from Vanchi Maniyachchi station.

Initially, 300 were housed in a nearby school and the others stayed at Srivaikuntam railway station.

On Monday night, troops assisted rescue of over 100 people, including 54 women, a pregnant lady, and 19 children near Thoothukudi. Medical care and life support was provided to them, the Defence PRO Chennai said in a post on X.

The passengers of the Chennai-bound express train from the temple town of Tiruchendur were stranded for nearly 20 hours at Srivaikuntam, which is in the worst flood-hit region.

An official said, “All efforts are on to rescue them.” He added that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had also been alerted.

Background of the incident

The Tiruchendur-Chennai Egmore Express (Train No 20606) departed from Tiruchendur to Chennai at 8:25 pm on Sunday.

The train was, however, stopped at Srivaikuntam railway station, about 32 km away from Tiruchendur, due to heavy rain and flooding, said the official.

The passengers could not venture outside as the entire area was heavily inundated, he noted.

Southern Railways announced traffic suspension on the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur section, between Srivaikuntam and Seydunganallur, as the ballasts had been washed away in floods and the tracks were “hanging”, with water flowing over them.

Tamil Nadu rains

On Monday night, Chief Minister MK Stalin held a virtual meet from Delhi with ministers and district collectors of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Kanniyakumari, and Tenkasi, and asked them to continue rescue efforts in full swing as people were still stranded in several areas of Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli districts.

Additional pumps to drain water have been dispatched by authorities to southern districts from Chennai and about 200 boats have been deployed as part of rescue efforts.

As many as 39 regions in southern Tamil Nadu witnessed extremely heavy rainfall, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.

Heavy to extremely heavy rainfall was recorded in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, and Kanniyakumari districts and light to moderate rainfall at most places in southern Tamil Nadu, the IMD said in a bulletin.

In the four districts, 225 State Disaster Response Force personnel, divided into nine teams, have been deployed.

In such districts, National Disaster Response Force’s (200 personnel) eight teams have been stationed and two more NDRF teams are set to be deployed.

Nearly 7,500 people belonging to 1,545 families have been housed in 84 relief centres, such as schools and marriage halls, and 84 boats are in use for rescue purposes.

The rainfall was due to the influence of an upper air cyclonic circulation extending up to the mid-tropospheric levels over the Comorin area and its neighbourhood.

(With PTI inputs)