Chennai Airport Reopens as Indian City Limps Back From Rains

  • Daytime operations for domestic flights start from Sunday
  • 28,000 people rescued from flood-hit areas of southern city

Some commercial flights restarted from Chennai on Sunday after being suspended since Dec. 2 as the southern Indian city struggled to limp back from its worst deluge in a century.

Jet Airways India Ltd. will operate a Bengaluru-Chennai return flight on Sunday evening, according to an e-mailed statement. The airline is working with airport authorities to restart full operations, according to the statement. 

While daytime operations have resumed, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the regulator, will decide on night operations on Sunday, according to a late Saturday statement on India’s Press Information Bureau website.

A threefold increase in seasonal rainfall led to overflowing lakes and reservoirs wreaking havoc across a vast swathe of the metropolis of 9 million people and its surrounding areas. The Times of India reported 450 rain-related deaths as of Dec. 5, and the toll is expected to rise.

More than 28,000 people have been rescued by the National Disaster Response Force and Indian armed forces, according a government statement on Saturday. The rainfall has weakened since Dec. 4 and flood waters are receding, according to the statement. Power has been restored in more than 90 percent of India’s fourth-largest city.

Road connectivity has been restored and the city bus service is functioning, according to the statement. Train services will start normal operations from Dec. 7.

“We have stopped rescue operations and are focusing only on relief operations,” S.S. Guleria, deputy inspector general of operations at the National Disaster Response Force, said by phone from Chennai. “There have been some rains since Saturday night, but that’s not affecting relief work.”

The India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall and thundershowers over the next two days in several parts of southern India, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and Lakshadweep.

Banks are being kept open in Chennai on Sunday and the Reserve Bank of India is helping banks in their cash-based transactions for customers, Alpana Killawala, a spokeswoman for the central bank, said by phone on Sunday.

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