Tamil Nadu cyclone toll rises to 45, opposition alleges poor relief work

Chennai:The death toll due to the severe cyclone Gaja that devastated several districts in Tamil Nadu two days ago has risen to 45 and damaged 117,624 houses, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said in Sunday.

Opposition leaders have criticized what they say was the government’s apathy in reaching out relief materials like food, drinking water and other material to the cyclone affected areas.

In Pudukottai district, people complained about not getting relief materials and protested on the roads. They also set fire to five government vehicles.

Speaking to reporters at Salem, about 350 km from here, Palaniswami said 45 persons have died in the cyclone and the loss of livestock was put at 735.

He added that 88,102 hectare of crop and 39,938 electricity poles were damaged in the cyclone.

The central government has been asked to depute a team from the National Disaster Management to assess the destruction.

To a query about dropping relief materials by helicopters, Palaniswami said removal of trees from the roads would be completed fully on Sunday.

Palaniswami said he would visit the affected areas on Monday.

DMK President M.K. Stalin in a letter to the party cadres wondered whether Palaniswami’s heart was made of iron as he appeared to be more interested with inaugurating projects rather than visiting the cyclone battered areas.

Stalin, who toured the areas, accused the government of failing to provide sufficient food, clothing and drinking water for the people at the relief centres.

He said had only the government carried out the dredging of canals and other water bodies, much of the damage could have been averted and several trees could have been saved.

Stalin said coconut trees in about 7,000 hectares in several districts have been damaged.

PMK founder S. Ramadoss said it was a shame that the AIADMK government was not providing even food for the cyclone affected people.

He said that various districts in the Cauvery delta region like Thanjavur, Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur had been severely affected.