Chennai drowns in flood misery, more rain likely
Heaviest rainfall in a century shuts down airport; armed forces rushed in
CHENNAI: The heaviest rainfall in a century brought India’s fourth most populous metropolis to its knees on Wednesday as widespread flooding shut down the airport and factories of top automobile companies, and stopped trains packed with passengers on submerged tracks.
The Indian Navy’s air base at Arakkonam — 70 km west of Chennai — was readied for commercial flights to evacuate hundreds of passengers stranded at the civil airport, which has been shut till December 6.
The Navy facilitated the landing of an Air India Airbus A320 jet at the base, INS Rajali, on Wednesday evening, officials said adding that this will provide momentum to relief and rescue operations in the capital of Tamil Nadu.
People formed human chains to traverse treacherous stretches of roads many of which developed sinkholes, sought and found help on social media and dug in at some areas where the water level reached the second floor of apartment buildings.
The authorities deployed men and machine of Army, Air Force and Navy for one of the biggest peacetime operations in the country to rescue thousands of people from homes and workplaces in the city of more than six million people.
“Only crows are coming and no helicopters. None of us have had any food for the past two days and there is no one who is even looking this way,” said K Srinu, a 35-year-old carpenter stranded in the heart of the city, as he waited for rescue teams to evacuate his father, a heart patient.
It was a plight shared by many across the city as rescue teams, including personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), moved from one locality to another, helping women, children and the infirm first. More than 200 people were injured over the past 24 hours, a senior home ministry official said.
Though there were no showers for the better part of Wednesday, the weatherman predicted rain for at least four more days albeit with reduced intensity in Chennai and four neighboring districts which have also been paralysed.
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