Cyclone Michaung: Chennai airport resumes operations, airlines to verify flight status

Chennai flooded after heavy rain on Dec 3. Photo: AFP

Chennai: The heavy downpour brought in by Cyclone Michaung in Chennai and its neighbouring districts have started to abate.

The Chennai Airport emerged from the deluge after a day of relentless rains. The airfield of the Chennai airport which was closed for arrival and departure operations till 9am 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 prioritized 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 relentless downpour, reminiscent of the 2015 deluge, paralysed daily life, prompting authorities to declare a public holiday on Tuesday. Residents hurried to purchase and replenish supplies, with a high demand for drinking water. 

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. 

Weather forecast
North coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are expected to experience light to moderate rainfall in most places and isolated heavy rainfall on Tuesday morning, decreasing thereafter, according to the latest IMD bulletin. The forecast of reduced rainfall intensity comes as a relief. Residents in some parts of Chennai reported no rain since early hours on Tuesday and mentioned that power services had been restored in those areas. However, train services to and from the city remain suspended.

People wade through a waterlogged road during heavy rain owing to Cyclone Michaung, in Chennai, Monday. Photo: PTI

Cyclone Michaung is looming over west-central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal, off the coasts of south Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu.It is likely to move northwards parallel and close to the south Andhra Pradesh coast and cross between Nellore and Machilipatnam, close to Bapatla during the forenoon of Tuesday as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds reaching up to 110 kilometres per hour.

Transportation hit

Transportation services took a severe blow, with numerous trains and flights canceled. Waterlogged roads presented challenges for the scarce number of road users. Operations at the Chennai airport were halted from 9:40 am to 11 pm on Monday, with about 70 flights cancelled due to incessant rains and waterlogging affecting the runway and tarmac, as stated by the Airport Authority of India. The suspension of services were extended to 9am on Tuesday following this.

The Southern Railway reported the suspension of many trains originating from Dr. MGR Chennai Central to destinations such as Coimbatore and Mysuru, offering full refunds to affected passengers. 

In the past 24 hours, Perungudi in Chennai received 29 cm of rainfall, while Avadi in Tiruvallur district recorded 28 cm, and Mamallapuram in Chengalpet received 22 cm. The weather office warned of continued heavy rainfall and strong winds in the four districts. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah communicated with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, assuring support from the Centre. The CM indicated a potential request for assistance in post-cyclone relief efforts.

Despite the disruptions, essential services such as police, fire service, medical facilities, power supply, and disaster response offices continued to operate. The government deployed ten teams with 250 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel for rescue operations in affected districts. The Industries Department established a help desk to aid small and medium enterprises, while SIPCOT monitored and cleared hurdles within industrial parks in affected areas.

Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi acknowledged the severe impact on eastern coastal districts and assured the deployment of government agencies to ensure public safety. He urged residents to heed the state government's advice and stay safe until conditions improve.
(With PTI inputs.)

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