Chennai rains: next 48 hours very crucial, says IMD - naval base acts as makeshift airport

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Rains batter Chennai; naval base near city to act as makeshift airport

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 the Army, air force and Navy for one of the biggest peacetime operations in the country to rescue thousands of people from homes and workplaces inundated by the heaviest rainfall in a century 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.

Though the rain relented 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 by the extreme weather.
Airlines suspended flights into Chennai’s flooded international airport, causing wider disruption to air travel. Authorities later decided to close the airport until Dec. 6.

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.
Watch | Heavy rains paralyse Chennai, flights, train services suspended
In a limited initial relief effort, four helicopters dropped food, water and medicines, while fishing boats commandeered by the military were collecting stranded residents. A major relief effort by 5,000 soldiers was promised within 24 hours.

“The entire state machinery has collapsed. Most officials are forced to sit at home. It’s a very frustrating situation,” said a home ministry official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the record.

Several trains cancelled and bus services were halted, resulting in thousands of passengers stranded at different places. Traffic too was affected very badly with vehicles having to navigate through stagnant waters that turned roads into rivulets. Potholes and craters and at places road caving in added to the motorists woes.

Stocks of major carmakers took a tumble because of the deluge in the area outside Chennai, known as India’s Detroit for its concentration of automakers. The flooding forced plants to shut for the second time in less than a month, crippling production and deliveries from the region. Ford and Nissan were among the automakers who told employees to stay home on Wednesday.
Most neighbourhoods were without electricity as power was switched off to prevent accidents.
The few shops that remained open in Chennai were virtually raided by customers, into panic buying with forecast of more rain. Many shops ran out of bread, milk and vegetables.

Most roads were left in a damaged state, with motorists finding it hard to navigate through potholes. (HT Photo)

With power outages keeping many areas in the dark for two days at a stretch, many residents came out for essential purchases. Many ATMs were closed as there was no power and the few that did function, had long queues of people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had spoken to chief minister J Jayalalithaa and assured full support from the Centre, met senior cabinet colleagues Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Venkaiah Naidu in Delhi to soar up emergency measures.

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), headed by cabinet secretary PK Sinha, met in Delhi on Wednesday to line up resources for Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states.
(With inputs from agencies)



The weather office in Chennai has predicted more rains in Tamil Nadu over the next 24 hours due to presence of a low pressure in Bay of Bengal. “Due to low pressure rainfall will continue in next 24 hours in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with some places receiving heavy to very heavy rainfall,” said Regional Meteorological Department Director, S.R. Ramanan.

Latest Updates:

SriLankan Airlines cancels four Chennai-bound flights — UL121, UL127, UL123 and UL125 — ColomboPage newspaper reported. The airlines said it will resume flights as soon as Chennai airport resumes operations. It may operate a few extra flights to facilitate the stranded passengers in Chennai, the carrier said.
Tamil Nadu government issues advisory to private undertakings to declare holiday for their employees on December 3 and 4. In its advisory, the Labour Department said that “in view of the adverse weather condition, the government issues an advisory to private undertakings to permit their staff to avail holiday permission or work from home as is done in many IT and private companies on December 3 and 4, 2015.” The advisory for holiday was being issued to districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, it said. - PTI
The financial loss due to the floods may exceed Rs.15,000 crore, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said. The State government had earlier put the total loss at Rs.8,481 crore after the first spell of rains. - IANS
Chennai airport to remain shut till December 6: AAI - PTI
Rains will continue to batter Tamil Nadu for the next seven days and the next 48 hours are “very crucial”, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said. IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore attributed the heavy rains to a “trough of low” over Southwest Bay of Bengal off Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka coast which will continue to bring rains over the next three days. 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,” Rathore said. -- PTI
NDRF,which already has 10 teams in TN, has been asked to double its strength by evening, reports Vijaita Singh. PTI adds: The NDRF is rushing about 600 personnel and over 40 inflatable boats to be deployed in relief and rescue operations. As the Chennai airport and nearby landing facilities are shut down, 15 teams airlifted from Bhubaneswar and Delhi by the IAF, will be landing at the ‘INS Rajali’ airbase in Arakkonam, about 60 km west of Chennai, said National Disaster Response Force chief O.P. Singh
Four trains between TN, Kerala cancelled: Southern Railways today cancelled at least four trains between the Tamil Nadu state capital and Kerala. The Chennai Egmore-Thiruvananthapuram Ananthapuri Express and Chennai Egmore-Guruvayoor Express and their pairing trains have been cancelled, the railways said in a release here.
Hyundai, Ford, Renault suspend ops in Chennai due to floods: Auto majors Hyundai, Ford and Renault have temporarily suspended operations at their plants in Chennai due to floods. - PTI
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik spoke to TN CM Jayalalithaa, conveying his concern over torrential & recurring rains in TN
As many as 3,500 people, including 1,500 passengers, were stranded on Wednesday morning at the Chennai international airport, which has been closed for operations till Thursday morning following flooding of the runway. Read more:
Chennai airport
Due to Chennai floods, there will be no charges on BSNL bills for one week in Chennai starting today: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Telecom Minister to ANI.
Meeting on Chennai floods begins in Parliament, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Manohar Parrikar, Nirmala Sitharaman in attendance.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) says they have already released Rs. 509 crore from state disaster relief fund to TN govt.
Chennai suburban areas like Tambaram and Chembarambakkam received the highest rainfall of 49 cms and 47 cms respectively, said Regional MeT Depatment head S.R. Ramanan
Naval warship INS Airavat wth 6 integral boats, 20 divers and relief material off to Chennai from Vishakapattinam. It is expected to reach tomorrow.
Chennai receives 29 cms of rain for 24-hr period ending 8.30 a.m on Wednesday. Only 0.5 mm so far, says Met department’s official.
Trinamool Congress’ Sudeip Bandhyopadhyaya asks for more funds for TN floods in Lok Sabha.
AIADMK MP in the Lok Sabha has asked TN floods to be treated as a national calamity.
The Government has decided to send two C-17 aircrafts, one from Delhi and the other from Bhubhaneshwar. In all 12 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will be sent to Tamil Nadu by these aircrafts.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) headed by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Mishra held a meeting on Wednesday to take stock of the flood situation in Tamil Nadu and adjoining areas of Andhra Pradesh. The meeting was being attended by senior Home Ministry officials as well.
Dramatic scenes unfolded on the arterial Kotturpuram bridge near Adyar as the Adyar river has started overflowing. Tamil Nadu Housing Board Colony, with over 3,000 residents, is completely inundated. A rescue team is in action, strongly battling the currents of the river. The Kotturpuram bridge has beeen shut as water has entered on the bridge. Earlier, water from Chembarambakkam reservoir was discharged at the rate of 20,000 cubic feet per second into the Adyar river.
Tamil Nadu Housing Board colony in Kotturpuram, Chennai on Wednesday.
The Chennai Collector issued a flood warning, asking people living along the river to move to safer places.
As water levels at Chennai airport in Meenambakkam, a low-lying area, started increasing, leading to flooding on the runway. Operations at the Chennai airport have been closed for now. According to ANI, the Chennai airport will be closed till 6 a.m. on Thursday.
Saidapet bridge has also been closed as it was it is completely flooded. Roads were flooded and essential services, including trains and buses, were suspended in most locations.



Comments on this Article
john, Chennai Fri, March-22-2019, 11:59
Your good knowledge and kindness in playing with all the pieces were very useful. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a step like this.
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