Technical flights resume at Chennai airport, rescue ops stepped up

  • Agencies, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 05, 2015 18:02 IST
An aerial view of the submerged Chennai airport during heavy rains in Chennai on December 2. Technical flights have been resumed at the airport, but commercial flying is still on hold due to waterlogging. (PTI Photo)

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said on Saturday it has pressed into service 50 teams with over 200 boats in Chennai and rescued over 16,000 people marooned by floodwaters in a “massive” operation.

“This is our most massive deployment in any flood disaster till date. Now we have close to 1,600 personnel with 21 officers and 200 rubberised inflatable boats. We have rescued over 16,000 people to safer locations till now,” NDRF director general OP Singh said.

Singh further said that the force is stepping up its operations, aiming to provide water and food to as many marooned people as they can.

In Delhi, a meeting of the Crisis Management Group (CMG) under the chairmanship of Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was held to review the ongoing operations by multiple agencies.

Meanwhile, technical flights began operations from Chennai Airport on Saturday, three days after services were been suspended due to flooding.

“We started technical flights from Chennai airport. But we are unable to resume commercial flights as the basement of the airport is still waterlogged and power supply of the terminal building has not been restored completely. It might take at least two to three days to clear the airport for operations,” minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma said.

He said four commercial flights were operated from INS Rajali Naval base, with two flights of Indigo and one each of Spicejet and Trujet evacuating 310 people.

Three stranded Air India aircraft flew back to Delhi from the Chennai airport. A total 34 aircraft of various airlines were stranded at the airport due to the flooding caused by torrential rains.

Power has been restored in many parts of the city and telephone network too has improved a bit as compared to last few days. In many places, including Tamabaram, telephone landline services were being restored and mobile services also picked up pace. But in many areas networks continue to remain weak and phone lines clogged.

The situation remained tough for thousands living in low lying areas that are still having knee- to waist deep waters.

The Met office had on Friday withdrawn its warning of heavy rains in the city but heavy to very heavy rains has been forecast for south coastal and interior districts and Puducherry.

Torrential downpour has left 300 dead and thousands homeless in Tamil Nadu . About 350,000 people have been rescued so far by defence and disaster response personnel, officials said, but thousands remain marooned in parts of the state with food and drinking water in short supply.

Aid from Singapore

The Singapore government will contribute $75,000 towards the Singapore Red Cross’ South Asia Floods 2015 public appeal following the devastating floods.

In a letter to Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday, Singapore minister of foreign affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said he was saddened by the hundreds of lives lost and disrupted due to the severe flooding in South India, Channel News Asia reported.

“Like many Singaporeans, I hope that the floods will recede soon. I am confident that normalcy will return to your state in the near future under your leadership,” he wrote.

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