India struggles to deal with deadly Chennai flood

India steps up relief work after deadly flood in Chennai

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Indian relief workers gathering supplies for flood victims, Chennai, December 5, 2015

India has deployed extra soldiers and relief workers on Saturday, in the aftermath of the Chennai flood, the worst flood to hit the country in decades, which has left 280 dead.

The runway at Chennai Airport has been partially opened for relief flights after being shut down for the past four days, though passenger flights have not started yet, officials said.

The authorities said that shortage of essential goods will ease as roads are reopened and dozens of special trains are running to bring in relief material.

As the rain paused, more than half of Chennai's main areas remain under water, which raises the threat of disease and squalor in the city.

People also suffered from power cuts and a shortage of fuel in Chennai.

"Rescue work is over. We are focused on relief now. We are trying to shift men and machinery to provide drinking water in the affected areas," Rekha Nambiar from National Disaster Response Force told AFP.

Atulya Mishra, relief commissioner of Tamil Nadu state said that 10 columns of the army, -about 1,000 soldiers- have been brought to the city in addition to the nine columns already engaged in relief and rescue work.

"It has been a monsoon unlike anything we have seen in history, we need all the help we can get," Mishra also said.

City of Chennai, which is a flat coastal city of six million, remained under an average of  2.5 metres of rain water for the last four days.

Many residents spent days on rooftops due to more than 345 mm of rain falling over 24 hours on December 1.

Experts blamed poor urban planning for the devastation in India's fourth-largest city, which has grown rapidly in the last few decades, as it became a major IT and automobile hub.

One of the main problems in the flood struck region was 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