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Chennai turns island, road, rail, air links disrupted

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Indian bystanders and travellers gather as floodwaters lap at the end of a highway in Chennai on December 2, 2015. India has deployed troops to Tamil Nadu and closed the main airport there after heavy rains worsened weeks of flooding that has killed nearly 200 people in the southern coastal state. Thousands of rescuers carrying diving equipment, inflatable boats and medical equipment were battling to evacuate victims across the flooded state, officials said. AFP PHOTO/STR

Chennai: Chennai today turned a virtual island and several coastal areas of Tamil Nadu were marooned by flood waters after unprecedented rains in 100 years pounded the city, its suburbs and neighbouring districts destroying crucial road and rail links, shutting the airport and rendering thousands homeless. Chennai, which received 49 cm of rain and Chembarambakkam, where the reservoir surplussed about 25,000 cusecs of water into Adyar river, received 47 cm of rains in the last 24 hours that flooded the city and the suburbs, uprooting people from their homes.

Flood waters reached upto even the second floor of the Housing Board colonies on the banks of Adyar river as people reached roof tops looking for rescue and relief in several parts of the city and suburbs.

The death toll in the rains that have lashed the city and other parts of state has gone up to 197, officials said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa last night and promised all assistance, held discussions with his cabinet colleagues Rajnath Singh (Home), Arun Jaitley (Finance) and M Venkaiah Naidu (Parliamentary Affairs) in the morning to take stock of the situation.


The National Crisis Management Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha reviewed the situation and assured the state of all support from the centre. All modes of transport–air, road and rail services– remained suspended due to the unprecedented deluge, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the airport and various rail terminals. Suburban rail services also remained suspended.

Adding to the worry of the citizens and administration, the weatherman has forecast rainfall over the next three days with the next 48 being very critical under the influence of a trough of low pressure and upper air circulation over the southwest Bay of Bengal and Sri Lankan coast.

Thereafter, the state will see an anti-cyclone activity which will be associated with “heavy rains” at some places. “The phenomenon will continue for the next seven days, but the next 48 hours are very crucial. Neighbouring states will also see rainfall activity,” L S Rathore, Director General of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) told reporters in Delhi.

A steady drizzle, which was occasionally heavy, brought some respite from yesterday’s torrential downpour, but vast swathes in the city and the suburbs and neighbouring districts of Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Cuddalore and Villupuram reeled under the impact of the surplus waters from reservoirs that left Adyar and Cooum rivers in spate and Buckingham Canal breached.

Massive rescue and rehabilitation efforts have been undertaken by army, navy and air force along with personnel of the National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF), police and fire service in the worst-affected areas of Tambaram, Mudichur, Velachery and Madipakkam in the suburbs that come under Kanchipuram distict and in Kotturpuram, Jaffarkhanpet, Saidapet, Guindy and Mambalam and other western parts of the city. Normal life in the city and suburbs were completely disrupted by lack of public transport, power and essential supplies as movement of vehicles were largely curtailed because flood waters even in hitherto-safe areas of the city.

Mobile telephony largely remained crippled because of failure of telephone towers and the landline phones in several areas went still because of the flood in the of the areas.

The Maraimalai Adigal bridge connecting on the arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road) and the Kotturpuram bridge were closed for transport following Adyar water rising upto the road level.

Teams of army, navy, coast guard and NDRF have been deployed in the worst-affected areas of Tambaram, the southern gateway to the city, Mudichur and Oorapakkam.

Police and Fire service personnel were also involved in rescue operations. The Coast Guard has deployed its boats in some areas in the city that has witnessed unprecedented rains in a short period of time in recent memory.

Teams have also been pressed into service in Jafarkhanpet, Saidapet and Kotturpuram on the banks of Adyar and Vadapalani, Valasaravakkam, Anna Nagar, Mogappair, Avadi, Ambattur and Aminjikarai in western parts of the city which have been flooded with waters entering residential homes.

The southern suburbs of Chennai including Velachery, Madipakkam and neighbouring areas which had suffered heavily in the earlier spells of rain in November were again hit badly by the downpour that has again flooded homes.

The Grand Southern Trunk road connecting Chennai with Madurai and beyond, the old Mahabalipuram road and the East Coast Road through which Chennai can be accessed have been cut off with waters washing away the roads in several places including Guduvancheri.

The famous IT corridor was also flooded. Work in the IT and auto hubs in the suburbs and the industrial estate in Ambattur has been crippled. While travellers from southern districts have been stranded midway, thousands of passengers were left helpless in Chennai Central and Egmore stations.

Suburban railway services in Chennai have also been suspended because of flooding of tracks. Trains from norther, eastern, western and other parts of south India to Chennai were cancelled or diverted.

The flooding of the city and the suburbs has been caused essentially by the surplussing of waters from the reservoirs like Chembarambakkam, Poondi and Puzhal into Adyar and Cooum that criss-cross the city flooding several areas along the banks and displacing people from homes.

An unprecedented 25,000 cusecs of water was released from the Chembarambakkam lake as the reservoir has been getting heavy supplies from the rain in catchment areas.

Electricity has been cut off in most parts of the city as a precautionary measure while people went without essential supplies like milk and water. Air Force helicopters were seen distributing food packets in some of the worst-hit areas.

The Southern Railways cancelled 16 trains and diverted 12 others both on the Chennai Central and Egmore sections following breaching of tracks in several areas. The airport, whose runway, tarmac and apron areas have been flooded with rainwater, has been shut down till 6 AM tomorrow. Operations were suspended at the airport last night itself. Flights to Chennai have been diverted to Bangalore, Hyderabad and other nearby cities.

In view of the water logging, Chennai Airport authorities have shut operations till 6 AM tomorrow. All airlines have cancelled their operations from Chennai airport where stranded passengers have been having a horrid time.

The Airports Authority of India has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) to all air operators in this regard, an AAI spokesperson said in New Delhi. Rajnath Singh told reporters in Delhi that the Centre has deployed Army, Navy and NDRF teams in sufficient numbers.

“The Prime Minister has issued a memorandum and we have deployed our Central team there to assess the situation and make a report so that every possible help can also reach there,” Singh said.

The famous IT corridor was also flooded. Work in the IT and auto hubs in the suburbs and the industrial estate in Ambattur has been crippled. While travellers from southern districts have been stranded midway, thousands of passengers were left helpless in Chennai Central and Egmore stations.

Suburban railway services in Chennai have also been suspended because of flooding of tracks. Trains from norther, eastern, western and other parts of south India to Chennai were cancelled or diverted.

The flooding of the city and the suburbs has been caused essentially by the surplussing of waters from the reservoirs like Chembarambakkam, Poondi and Puzhal into Adyar and Cooum that criss-cross the city flooding several areas along the banks and displacing people from homes.

An unprecedented 25,000 cusecs of water was released from the Chembarambakkam lake as the reservoir has been getting heavy supplies from the rain in catchment areas.

Electricity has been cut off in most parts of the city as a precautionary measure while people went without essential supplies like milk and water. Air Force helicopters were seen distributing food packets in some of the worst-hit areas.

The Southern Railways cancelled 16 trains and diverted 12 others both on the Chennai Central and Egmore sections following breaching of tracks in several areas. The airport, whose runway, tarmac and apron areas have been flooded with rainwater, has been shut down till 6 AM tomorrow. Operations were suspended at the airport last night itself. Flights to Chennai have been diverted to Bangalore, Hyderabad and other nearby cities.

In view of the water logging, Chennai Airport authorities have shut operations till 6 AM tomorrow. All airlines have cancelled their operations from Chennai airport where stranded passengers have been having a horrid time.

The Airports Authority of India has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) to all air operators in this regard, an AAI spokesperson said in New Delhi. Rajnath Singh told reporters in Delhi that the Centre has deployed Army, Navy and NDRF teams in sufficient numbers.

“The Prime Minister has issued a memorandum and we have deployed our Central team there to assess the situation and make a report so that every possible help can also reach there,” Singh said.