Chennai floods wreak havoc

An Indian labourer pushes his cycle trishaw through floodwaters in Chennai on December 1, 2015, during a downpour of heavy rain in the southern Indian city.
PHOTO: AFP

The heaviest rainfall in over a century has caused massive flooding across the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, driving thousands from their homes, shutting vehicle factories and paralysing the airport in the state capital Chennai.

Airlines suspended flights into Chennai's flooded international airport, causing wider disruption to air travel.

"The biggest challenge is to find a way to clear the inundated airport and main roads," said Mr Anurag Gupta at the National Disaster Management Authority in New Delhi.

Passengers stranded at the airport said they did not know when they would be able to fly or where to stay if they could not.

"All of us here are getting agitated because none of the hotels nearby are vacant. Where do we go?" traveller Vinit Jain told Reuters Television.

A Changi Airport spokesman told The New Paper that 12 flights were affected due to the flood.

Some flights were delayed and others were cancelled.

The Chennai airport has been shut down since Tuesday morning and it will remain shut till Sunday, The Times of India reported.

OVERFLOWING

The deluge forced the state government to release water from overflowing reservoirs and lakes around Chennai.

This brought the floodwaters rushing through the Adyar River, which flows through the heart of the city.

The water level in the river rose so high that it flowed over a key bridge forcing officials to close it.

The army and The National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the city's worst-affected southern suburbs to rescue stranded people, BBC reported.

Reports said power supply has been suspended in nearly 60 per cent of the city's neighbourhoods.

EVACUATE

Residents took to social media to offer accommodation, food and mobile phone recharges to citizens who have to evacuate their properties.

Siddharth, a Tamil film actor, was coordinating a relief effort on Twitter, Reuters reported.

Mr Ashok Modi, a resident of Chennai, told the BBC: "We saw rains like this some 25 to 30 years ago when there was no electricity for almost a week.

"It has been raining since Monday night and there has been no respite. Everywhere you look, there is two to three feet of water.''

Hundreds of divers and army rescue teams entered inundated homes and took the injured to hospital.

Authorities said more than a million people were affected by the flooding, with some residents bemoaning the slow response of the relief teams.

"The police want to help, but there are no boats. We are trying not to panic," said Mr Ramana Goda, who took refuge at a police station after he and his family fled their home the night before.

At least twice as much rain fell in the last 24 hours as the average for the whole of December, said a private weather forecaster, Skymet.

It said the downpour would continue for another 24 hours.


This article was first published on December 3, 2015.
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