People comfort each other near the site where houses collapsed at Nadur village in Coimbatore district, some 500 km southwest of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, India, on Dec. 2, 2019. With the recovery of two more bodies from the debris of collapsed houses, the death toll in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu rose to 17 on Monday, officials said. (Str/Xinhua)
by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- With the recovery of two more bodies from the debris of collapsed houses, the death toll in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu rose to 17 on Monday, officials said.
The houses collapsed Monday morning after heavy rains battered the area, triggering the fall of a 20-feet high compound wall on some smaller houses.
The wall fell on four houses near it and caused them to collapse completely.
"Our team present on the spot carrying rescue work retrieved two more bodies from the debris and now the death toll stands at 17," Uma Maheswari, an official at the disaster management in Coimbatore told Xinhua over the telephone. "So far we have recovered bodies of three men, 11 women and three children."
The houses collapsed at Nadur village near Mettupalayalam in Coimbatore district, about 502 km southwest of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu.
According to officials, most of the victims were asleep inside their houses when the compound wall collapsed and buried their houses underneath.
Following the incident, locals raised an alarm and informed the police, who along with disaster response forces and firefighters rushed to the spot.
The collapse of houses triggered panic in the area.
Maheswari said the local government has announced a compensation of 5,571 U.S. dollars to each family that lost a member in Monday's tragedy.
Rains lashed many parts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry on Sunday, triggering waterlogging at several places including Chennai. A warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall has been put out in several towns, besides a flood alert for the people living in low lying areas.
Authorities in Tamil Nadu state and Puducherry have ordered the closure of schools and colleges on Monday, besides announcing postponement of examinations.
Meteorological department officials have forecast widespread rain across coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry due to a cyclonic circulation near Comorin on the Indian Ocean.
Authorities in Chennai said they were prepared to tackle any eventuality and people need not to panic.
"In Chennai, we have set up 176 relief centers. Boats have been kept ready to evacuate people if need arises and we have 600 dewatering pumps ready to clear the water-logged low-lying areas," an official said. "We have also issued the helpline numbers for people in distress."
India's meteorological department said heavy to very heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu and surrounding areas was very likely to continue for the next two days.