Thousands Stranded at Chennai Airport Amid Deadly Flooding
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A ‘One Hundred Year Flood’ has devastated Chennai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The relentless rain has claimed nearly 200 lives, according to FirstPost, and has left 3,500 travelers and employees stranded at the city’s airport. The city has received rain for 34 of the last 40 days, including over 14 inches of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, with more rain and thunderstorms expected for the next week.
Chennai Airport is served by 26 airlines, including Air India, British Airways, Emirates and Singapore. It handles about 10.5 million passengers in 2014, about the same number as Washington Dulles here in the U.S. It was built on the flood plains of the Adyar River. The rain has flooded the runway at the airport, causing it to be closed on Tuesday and expected to remain closed until Sunday.
In addition to planes, cars and trains cannot enter or leave the city. The Indian Army has rescued more than 2,000 people from the flood, according to NDTV. Schools have also been closed, and parts of the city are without electricity. Ford and BMW have reportedly halted vehicle production in Chennai, which is known as “The Detroit of India.” Vehicle ownership per capita has grown there 95 percent over the past decade.
NDTV also reports that residents have opened their doors to strangers, offering food, shelter and even mobile recharges. Other facilities such as malls, cinema theaters and offices have also opened their doors to stranded people.
Chennai is home to approximately 4.5 million people, and some have said this catastrophe is the direct result of being built over natural wetlands during the past fifteen years. Now, during the monsoon, the water does not have a place where it can drain fast enough, though city officials thought they were prepared. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa told local news that “Losses are unavoidable when there’s very heavy rain. Swift rescue and relief alone are indicators of a good government.”
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