Heavy rains strike Indian hospital, killing 14 patients

Heavy rains spread fear in flood-struck Indian city of Chennai while death of 14 patients at private hospital raised official toll to 280

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

More than 7,000 people have been rescued so far by the army and the National Disaster Response force

Heavy rain in India that had started to withdraw rose again after new scattered showers which urged residents to run for shelter under trees and in shopfronts.

City of Chennai which is a flat coastal city remained under an average of  2.5 meters of rain water for a fourth day and many residents spent days on rooftops due more than 345 mm of rain fell over 24 hours on December 1.

The British ruled the city known as Madras 100 years ago which is India's fourth-largest city and has boomed in the 21st century as a centre for vehicle factories and IT outsourcing.

However, trash filled pipes and constructing on lake beds in the rush to industrialisation caused it to be flood prone.

Rescue teams urged people to seek for higher ground, or trying to rescue relatives while military helicopters dropped food to people confined at the roof tops and the defence ministry doubled the number of soldiers to 4,000 to help the rescue works.

After the recession of the waters in some places, masses of black mud and piles of garbage became visible.

A doctor at the hospital told reporters, that 14 patients in the intensive care unit of the MIOT International Hospital died after floods took out generators running life-support systems was one of the most shocking incidents.

Despite the heavy cooperation of rescue teams with the military and civilian emergency services, not all the places have been reached.

Citizens complained about the lack of warning before flood gates were opened on some of Chennai's 30 waterways.

"The authorities didn't give us adequate information about water being released from a nearby lake. Before we could take action my car had sunk and I had to move to the first floor of my apartment," said a manager at an interior design company living in the south of the city.

The Tamil Nadu public works department said it published warnings, however the issues could not reach the public due to lack of communication and breakdown in media and phone lines.

Similar shortages took the Chennai edition of The Hindu newspaper from being published for the first time in 137 years.

A home ministry official said, "We are sending technical experts and engineers who will find a solution to flush out all the flood water. It has to be drained out soon, but we don't know how."

The government changed some commercial flights into a naval air base near the city of six million, while the main airport remained closed and completely awash.

Car factories in the city that provide most employment to the local people and export around the world were also shut and carmakers will decide on Saturday whether to resume production.

One of the main problems in the flood struck region is that rescue teams’ having difficulty sending humanitarian aid.

The head of a local construction company said the biggest worry for his volunteer group was the places where the water level was too high for them to deliver food.

"We have lots of food, we have volunteers ready to go, but we don't have the boats. We feel rather helpless," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies