Chennai flood: Death toll rises to 12; Boats and tractors used in rescue efforts

A cyclist braves through the floodwaters in Chennai. Photo: PTI

Chennai: A dozen people lost their lives in various rain-related incidents in and around the city while personnel on fishing boats and farm tractors were engaged in rescuing stranded people on Tuesday.
The city and adjoining districts faced relentless rain on Monday as the severe cyclonic storm Michaung loomed over the north coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. Eleven others, who sustained injuries in rain-related incidents, were receiving treatment in various hospitals, officials said. 

Meanwhile, The Cyclone Michaung made landfall in Andhra Pradesh near the town of Bapatla, the weather office said, barrelling in with winds of up to 110 kph (70 mph). Parts of the state are expected to be pelted with more than 200 mm of rain over the next 24 hours, the weather office said earlier, and at least 8,000 people have been evacuated.

In Chennai, several District Disaster Response Teams (DDRT) were formed to carry out relief work in all rain-affected areas across the city. In Muthialpet locality in the city's outskirts, 54 families were rescued, and a woman who had just given birth was relocated to a safer place from Saligramam in the city.

More than 250 people from low-lying areas found refuge in a camp at a school in Kotturpuram. Additionally, 22 passengers stranded after their local bus got stuck in rainwater, were transferred to a relief camp set up at the Middle School in Pallavaram. Since Tuesday morning, most parts of Chennai experienced a respite from rain, allowing officials to focus on rescue and relief operations in affected areas. 

61,666 relief camps opened
During a press conference at the Chennai Corporation headquarters on Tuesday morning, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin stated that relief measures were being undertaken on a war footing. He said that across the nine affected districts, including Chennai, a total of 61,666 relief camps were opened. Approximately 11 lakh food packets and 1 lakh milk packets have been distributed so far, he said.

The Chennai Corporation has brought in 5,000 workers from other districts for flood mitigation work in the city. These workers utilised farm tractors and fishing boats in flooded areas such as Periamet and other parts of north Chennai for rescue operations and distributing relief materials.

Residents in areas like suburban Tambaram, Ashok Nagar, Kattupakkam and Perungudi said electricity has not been restored despite the rain ceasing for several hours. 

Stalin said power would be restored in phases. He noted that the handling of the situation was far better compared to the 2015 floods when the AIADMK was in power. While the earlier flood was caused by an unplanned release of 1 lakh cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam reservoir into the Adyar river, this time the torrential rain caused the inundation. He said that during the current spell of rain, the authorities released only 8,000 cusecs of water to the Adyar and Cooum rivers from the Chembarambakkam reservoir in a planned manner.

Among the 12 people who lost their lives in rain-related incidents were a 60-year-old woman in Foreshore Estate and a 48-year-old man who worked as a head constable at the Integral Coach Factory police station, according to an official release.

Chennai Airport opened
The Chennai Airport emerged from the deluge after a day of relentless rain. The airfield, which was closed for arrival and departure operations till 9 am on Tuesday, has opened for services. The Airport Authority of India has asked passengers to check their flight status with respective airlines.

The Air Traffic Management has prioritised departures to assist stranded passengers. There are 21 aircrafts on ground and around 1,500 people in the terminal, DD News reported.

Public holiday
The Tamil Nadu government declared a public holiday for educational institutions, government and private offices, financial institutions, and banks in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, and Chengalpattu districts on Tuesday. Private companies were urged to enable work from home for employees in affected regions.
(With inputs from PTI & Reuters)

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