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Woman, children die as car plunges into Thiruvanmiyur pond

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CHENNAI: A woman and her two daughters drowned after their car plunged into a roadside pond brimming over with rainwater in Thiruvanmiyur at 1am on Wednesday.

The woman’s husband freed himself from the car and survived, police said.

The family of four was returning home after watching a film at a theatre on Lattice Bridge Road on Tuesday night when the accident took place.

Police identified the man as Pandian, 48, a resident of Singaravelan Street in Chinna Neelankarai, who swam to the shore and cried out for help. Passersby informed police, fire and rescue services.

A police team led by the Adyar deputy commissioner S Kannan rushed to the spot and firemen used a crane to pull the car out of the pond.

“The woman and her daughters were found dead in the car,” a police officer said. “The vehicle was found 9ft deep in water .”

Police sent their bodies to Government Royapettah Hospital for autopsy.

Police identified the victims as P Vennila, 38, and her daughters P Ramya, 20, a second-year degree student in an arts and science college in the city, and P Pavithra, a Class 11 student at a private school.

“It appears that Pandian lost control of his car after an MTC bus suddenly overtook his vehicle,” the officer said. “He said his wife and daughters cried out when the bus almost hit them and, in shock, he swerved to the left, causing the car to plunge into the pond.”

He said Pandian, who recently started a travel company in the city after working for Nerolac Paints, noticed the car was running out of fuel. He took a U-turn near Palkalai Nagar in Thiruvanmiyur to head to a fuel station on the opposite side of the road.

“The accident took place as they were nearing the fuel station,” the officer said.

Pandian told police officers that he released his seat belt and escaped through a door. He thought his family members also escaped but, trapped in the car, they drowned.

The Adyar traffic police have registered a case under IPC Section 304 (a) (death caused due to negligence) against Pandian.

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Vehicle towing services in demand, rates rise 3-fold

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CHENNAI: Sridhar’s Nissan Sunny was flooded and is now grounded. He has to move it to Nissan’s authorized workshop in Ambattur from Nandanam and is waiting for nearly 5 days. Vehicle towing services are in demand as the several thousand cars that are affected due to flooding in Chennai last week are waiting to be towed.

Vehicle owners, whose insurance policies do not cover towing services, need to wait for a minimum of three days or pay as a whopping Rs 10,000. Normal charges ranges between Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000. ” Shortage of cranes to tow the cars and flooded roads have made it difficult for towing companies to operate, with requests pouring in,” an official at a car dealership said.

It is either overcharged, depending on the degree of inundation, or not available at all. Ashwin K from Perambur, after approaching towing companies, booked an appointment with the company’s service centre and is awaiting a response for over three days now. “Usually, we would have got it towed soon, but I am still on a wait list,” he adds.

Towing companies, however, claim that they have not increased their service charges, but sourcing drivers who stay far away is a problem. Sakthivel S, a towing agenct, says that while they usually charge Rs 1,500 per tow, they have marginally hiked the rate by Rs 500. “It is unfair to hike the rates when people are already suffering, but due to lack of resources, we cannot attend to requests immediately as there are too many,” he adds.

Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Source: TOI-Che

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Lockers flooded, customer goes to bank with hairdryer

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CHENNAI: If you thought bank lockers are safe, think again. A State Bank Of India customer (name withheld) was in peril when he had to go with a hairdryer to the Ashok Nagar branch to check on his locker.

This branch was submerged and the customer’s vault was situated in the last row, touching the ground. “He did not lose anything, though some items were damaged,” chief general manager, SBI, Chennai circle, B Ramesh Babu said.

Services like ATMs and lockers were impacted, making bankers rethink locker safety. “We have to now look at providing locker facilities at an elevation,” Babu said.

Bank lockers don’t have an insurance cover either. All big banks — nationalized and private are known to take a comprehensive bank cover that includes loss due to fire and explosion and other dangers. Such policies provide cover for employees, furniture and electronic equipment like computers. Lockers are however left out because of the ambiguity of the content.

In the prevailing circumstances, the only protection a customer has against potential locker risk is to go in for gold jewellery and valuable insurance cover. Insurers will only give a cover after valuation. With many customers unwilling to declare the actual value of valuables in the locker, such policies haven’t found takers.

Also, most bank lockers in the city are either located on the ground floor or the basement which make them vulnerable to floods. “The old locker structures are heavy and difficult to shift ,” a senior official from Indian Overseas Bank said. Officials also state that most bank branches in the city are located in the ground or mezzanine floors.

“After the second spell of rains during November, there was seepage in locker rooms at T Nagar branch. We called customers with lockers located at the lowest level and allotted them compartments in top rows,” MD, City Union Bank, N Kamakodi said.

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