With official and unofficial figures of deaths in the Chennai floods varying vastly, and many government sources unwilling to come on record, the actual death toll remains anybody’s guess.
The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday said that 347 people have died and 3889 cattle have perished in the state since October 1, due to the rains and subsequent floods.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh confirmed on December 3 that 269 people had lost their lives in Tamil Nadu.
But according to government records, only 79 lives have been lost in the deluge.
“There are no two opinions that the situation in Tamil Nadu is alarming. It is not an exaggeration to say that Chennai has turned into an island,” the minister said.
According to The Indian Express, police estimate that the death toll has touched 514 till Wednesday. “Most of the casualties are from Chennai and two neighbouring districts,” said an officer.
Sources from Royapettah Government Hospital have said off the record that about 50 dead bodies were brought to the hospital from December 1-7, most of them drowing victims. These deaths were reported from: Thoraipakkam, Neelankarai, Adyar, Pallikaranai, Semmenchery, T Nagar and West Mambalam. Of this, 14 deaths were from MIOT hospital, where the staff was accompanied by KMC hospital doctors. The water had reached the first floor of the hospital thereby cutting off the power and oxygen supply, said a staff (who does not want his name to be disclosed). Dr KV Vinod, Head of the Mortuary Department, refused to comment.
The News Minute had reported how a 50-year-old woman who worked at the MIOT hospital got swept away in the deluge and her body was found floating five days later in the Thalambur lake.
Fourteen deaths were reported from Kilpauk hospital due to drowning as well, according to a source.
Due to the sudden increase in dead bodies, most of the crematoriums and burial grounds are working overtime. “While the weekly average is 25-30 bodies, all functional burial grounds had more than 100 burials in the last one week,” one official said.
A senior police officer said, “Bodies had piled up, all decayed badly. Crematoriums in T Nagar, Nungambakkam and Saidapet were flooded too.”
Though the government has recorded 347 deaths, opposition parties are saying that the figures could be much more than this. The hospitals are not ready to disclose the number of deaths and just two hospitals in the city have recorded upto 64 deaths. So, if one includes the rest of the hospitals and also figures from Kancheepuram and Cuddalore district, the figures might be much higher than the government estimates.
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