Chennai drowns in flood mis­ery, more rain likely

Heav­i­est rain­fall in a cen­tury shuts down air­port; armed forces rushed in

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - KV Lak­sh­mana ■ let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

CON­TIN­UED ON P6

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