The Indian Air Force airlifted 22 people, including 12 infants, from rainwater-inundated parts of Chennai on Monday as the death toll in a torrential downpour reached 71.
Authorities in Tamil Nadu say more than 5,300 people have been rescued from inundated areas, while dozens of relief camps have been set up and thousands of food packets are being distributed.
“Twelve infants and 10 adults, including six women were today airlifted. The helicopter took off from the Tambaram base. Other helicopters have also been put on standby,” an official said as the IAF deployed four choppers to assist in the rescue operations.
IAF officials said they also airdropped 100 litres of water and 150 food packets.
Boats took over streets and schools and colleges were shut down in parts of Tamil Nadu as heavy rains set off by the northeast monsoon battered the southern state and seaside areas in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
At least 71 people have died in the past week in the state, which has been hit by its worst winter deluge that has submerged several districts, while the weather office predicted heavy rain over the next three days in the state, apart from Puducherry and coastal Andhra.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa reviewed the situation in her rain-hit RK Nagar constituency in Chennai and announced Rs 500 crore for relief and rehabilitation for the state while she asked authorities to speed up rescue efforts.
People struggled to wade through waist-deep water to get to offices and business establishments in the state capital where boats were brought in to rescue those stranded while local trains were running late as tracks were flooded.
The situation worsened after the sluice gates of the Chembarambakkam lake, which supplies water to the city, were opened as the water had crossed the peak level.
Though the sun broke free of the clouds briefly in the morning, hopes of an early end to the showers were dashed as the drizzle returned soon after. Chennai has been receiving continuous rain since Saturday night.
Vast swathes of land with standing paddy crop have been inundated in Nagapattinam district, while more than 10,000 fishermen did not venture into the sea for the fourth consecutive day.
Weather officials said in the next few days the rain system will slowly move from Tamil Nadu towards Andhra Pradesh where the seaside Chittoor and Nellore districts have already been hit.
Authorities instructed educational institutions to shut down in Chhittoor with several parts battered by a downpour since Sunday night.
Traffic movement has been paralysed with many pilgrims headed to the famous Balaji temple in the Tirumala hills stopped in their tracks.
Thousands of lakes and ponds across the district are now full to the brim with breaches reported in some areas. At Srikalahasti, another pilgrimage centre in the region, the Swarnamukhi river is flowing menacingly.
According to reports, three people were swept away by floodwaters in the Varadaiahpalem mandal of Chittoor district. Waters entered houses in several places.
Roads were damaged in many parts of Nellore district, disrupting transport services. Neighbouring Prakasam and Anantapur districts are also receiving rain.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu held a teleconference with collectors of affected districts and asked disaster response personnel to be on alert.