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Record rains flood Tamil Nadu; more to come

A
man carries a girl through a flooded road in Chennai, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

CHENNAI, India | By Sandhya Ravishankar

December 2, 2015
The heaviest rainfall in over a century caused massive flooding across Tamil Nadu,
driving thousands from their homes, shutting auto factories and paralysing the airport
in capital Chennai.
The national weather office predicted three more days of torrential downpours in the
southern state of nearly 70 million people.
There will be no respite, Laxman Singh Rathore of the India Meteorological
Department told reporters on Wednesday.
People travel on a boat as they move to safer places through a flooded road in Chennai,
December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has blamed climate change for the rain, injecting
urgency into the debate at global climate talks in Paris and highlighting the
vulnerability of tropical nations like India to extreme weather.
Physician Rupam Choudhury said he and a friend had to wade through neck-deep
water to reach high ground from where an army brought him to his hospital in the heart
of Chennai.
The Dr. A. Ramachandrans Diabetes Hospital was running out of oxygen for patients
and diesel for power generators, he said by phone. Most mobile networks were down
in the city and food supplies were running low.
Chennai, Indias fourth most populous city, is a major auto manufacturing and IT

outsourcing hub. Ford Motor, Daimler, Hyundai and Nissan told workers to stay at
home, while U.S. listed outsourcing firm Cognizant shut its 11 local offices.
Airlines suspended flights into Chennais 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 Anurag Gupta at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) 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.
No deaths were reported and the extent of damage would only become clear when the
floodwaters receded, another NDMA official said. The central home ministry said 18
people had suffered flood-related injuries.
Weather experts say the seasonal northeast monsoon was responsible for the flooding
in the city of six million, which like many of Indias teeming cities lacks adequate
drainage.
Jatin Singh, founder of private weather forecaster Skymet, said the northeast
monsoon was typically more intense in years like this when El Nino or a warming of
the waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean prevailed.
At least twice as much rain fell in the last 24 hours as the average for the whole month
of December, Skymet said. Forecasters say the trough of low pressure bringing the
rains was very slow moving.
Tamil Nadu is a major rice and sugar cane producing region, and a senior member of
a local farmers association said floods had washed out up to four agricultural districts.
RELIEF EFFORT
Modi has ordered rescue teams and paramilitary forces to launch an extensive relief
and rescue operation in Chennai.
He had blamed climate change for the heavy rains that hit the southern state last
month, tweeting before attending the U.N. climate summit in Paris this week: We are
feeling the impact of fast-paced climate change.
Hundreds of divers and army rescue teams entered inundated homes, taking 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.
Social media networks carried many appeals for help, while others offered assistance.
Siddarth, a popular Tamil film actor who goes by one name, was coordinating a relief
effort on Twitter.

The police want to help but there are no boats. We are trying not to panic, said
Ramana Goda, who took refuge at a police station after fleeing his home with his
family overnight.

Rains, floods devastate Chennai, army rescues people

Dec 2 (IANS) Life in the Tamil Nadu capital was virtually crippled on Wednesday as
fresh downpour worsened an already disastrous flood situation, posing danger to
thousands in low-lying areas.
Soldiers joined the rescue and relief work and rescued 65 men and women till
Wednesday afternoon, officials said, adding that more troops were on their way to
Chennai from Bengaluru.
Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said in New Delhi that the situation in
Chennai was unheard of and unprecedented, and promised all help to the
beleaguered city and other area.
Residents and officials admitted that almost everyone in Chennai, a sprawling city with
over 4.6 million people, had been affected one way or the other by the devastating
floods caused by torrential rains.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at the now shut Chennai airport and the

railway stations.
Electricity supply snapped in many areas. Telephone services too were hit.
With schools and colleges shut, and vast areas under sheets of water, most buses
went off the roads and suburban train services were suspended after waters flooded
the tracks.
Auto-rickshaws and taxis plied in some parts of Chennai but fleeced commuters. A taxi
driver reportedly charged Rs.4,500 to ferry three people from the airport to a hotel on
Anna Salai, the main arterial road.
Several parts of Anna Salai were under water.
Steady rains through Tuesday night it continued to drizzle on Wednesday kept
people in Chennai awake due to concerns over the rising water levels, residents said.
Unlike in the past, even up-market localities like Shastri Nagar, Anna Nagar, Alwarpet
and Mylapore were flooded.
Schools and colleges have been shut for over 15 days. Schools in Chennai functioned
only for two days last week before the rains hit again.
Hutments along the Adyar river bank have submerged till their roofs. With the river
overflowing, traffic over the Adayar bridge near Saidapet was closed for safety.
Surplus water from Poondi reservoir, which supplies water to Chennai, was released,
causing more misery. Water level in the Chembarambakkam, Puzhal and Sholavaram
reservoirs have also touched the danger mark.
The Southern Railway cancelled 13 trains out of Egmore station and four trains from
Chennai Central. Ten trains from other stations too were axed.
But some still dared to conduct weddings.
Today is an auspicious day for marriages. In our hall a wedding was conducted as
planned, K.M. Kannan, manager of the AVM Rajeshwari Kalyana Mandapam in south
Chennai, told IANS.
But Kannan added: I have sent my family to Erode as water was threatening to enter
our house. There has been no power supply in our area since yesterday.
Several private establishments have declared a holiday. Some government offices
were closed on Wednesday.
The Hindu and Business Standard newspapers did not come out on Wednesday due
to heavy rains, said an employee of one of the dailies.
Police blocked the wide stretch of Chennai beach as a precaution.
According to officials, the Chennai airport has been shut till Thursday morning and all
flights have been cancelled after the runway got flooded.
Water entered our apartment and we had to shift to our neighbours house on the first

floor, Revathi Vasan, a resident of west Mambalam in the heart of Chennai, told IANS.
Another family on the ground floor has also shifted with us, she said. There is waist
deep water around our apartment.
In suburban areas, flooding was severe with water levels covering ground floors and
threatening to enter the first floors of housing apartments.
Fortunately, people living at higher levels were opening their doors to strangers,
several residents told IANS. Movie theatres and malls too came to the rescue of the
flood-affected.
Major markets like in Anna Nagar could not escape the flooding.
In many areas, people made makeshift boats by tying up empty barrels to reach safer
places.
Hotels were swamped by frantic calls from residents and visitors for accommodation.
Suresh, who works with a private company, said: In my area (Villivakkam), the water
has reached chest level. I waded through rain water for a couple of kilometres to reach
my work place.
The unprecedented rains, the worst in 100 years, have battered Tamil Nadus northern
districts such as Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram and Cuddalore.
In the last spell of rains, around 180 people died in the four districts.
Posted by Thavam

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