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Army rescues survivors as flood toll nears 270 in Chennai

Army rescues survivors as flood toll nears 270 in Chennai

CHENNAI: The Indian military evacuated more than 2,000 residents stranded in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday as the death toll from flooding rose to 269 after the heaviest cloudburst in over a century.

Forecasts of more rain over the next 48 hours forced the army to work on a war footing to rescue survivors trapped in inundated parts of Chennai.

India’s fourth most populous city saw only slight rains on Thursday, but water levels had not receded since a day earlier, when a massive release of water from a brimming reservoir swamped low-lying areas of the city.Even as the weather cleared, waters rose in many residential areas, fed by spills from 35 lakes that have risen to dangerous levels.

After auto manufacturers and IT outsourcing firms suspended operations on Wednesday, state-run Chennai Petroleum shut down its 210,000-barrels-per-day oil refinery due to heavy flooding. The cloudburst earlier this week dumped as much as 345mm of rain in 24 hours.




“We live in a city expecting that we will have access to basic facilities. But today, we have no drinking water, no fresh food and no control over our lives,” said Sudha Raman Murthy, a mother of two teenage daughters.

Soldiers set up 25 temporary shelters and community kitchens and installed portable toilets. “We will have to resurrect an entire city,” said Abhijit Shaw, an army officer who was setting up a makeshift maternity ward in a government building.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2015

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