Airport reopens in India’s flood-hit Chennai

Chennai, December 6

India’s main airport in flood-devastated Tamil Nadu state reopened today as emergency workers strove to help thousands of residents forced to flee their inundated homes.

The international airport in the state capital Chennai had closed on Wednesday leaving thousands of passengers stranded, after record rains worsened flooding that has claimed nearly 300 lives since November 9.

“There was no damage to the runway. It remained under water for a few days but has been cleared now,” national Aviation Minister Mahesh Sharma said as passengers started to gather at the terminal. “We had a few relief flights yesterday from the airport and today commercial flights have resumed their services.”

Thousands of residents have been rescued by boat or plucked from rooftops after the floods left much of Chennai, a city of more than four million, underwater. Power supplies and phone networks were also hit.

Soldiers and other emergency workers who poured into the state have now switched to rushing food, drinking water and medical supplies to the residents.

“The army has... distributed relief materials including water and food to over 20,000 people,” said Col Rohan Anand. But rain was again falling in Chennai today, threatening to hamper relief efforts.