Flights suspended as renewed flooding hits India’s Chennai

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Heavy rain brought air travel from India’s southern city of Chennai to a standstill Wednesday, with runways flooded from 24 hours of downpours, officials and news reports said.

India’s armed forces were sent to rescue people stranded in their homes in several neighborhoods that flooded after water was released from overflowing reservoirs and lakes.

Television footage showed victims being helped to climb down from first floor windows onto makeshift rafts or swimming to rescue boats in low-lying areas, where the water in some places reached above eight feet (2.44 metres).

All flights from Chennai airport, which includes connections to international destinations, were suspended until Thursday morning, an official at the airport control room said.

At least 700 people were stranded at the airport which handles around 350 flights a day, NDTV news channel reported.

“Additional forces are being sent from the navy and army,” federal Defence Minister Mohan Parikker told reporters.

Chennai has high average rainfall in November but this year it has been unusually heavy. Another spate of heavy rain in mid-November also brought the city to a standstill.

The power supply had been cut off in some areas by the latest period of bad weather, while areas residents have had no access to food or water, NDTV reported.

The local met department has predicted more rainfall over the next two days.

“The situation is grim, we are in constant touch with the state government,” federal Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said.

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