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Army Chief conducts recce of flood-hit TN; relief operation in full swing

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Chennai: As intermittent spells of rain continued to lash coastal Tamil Nadu, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh on Friday conducted an aerial recce of the affected regions of Chennai and its adjoining districts to strategise further rescue and relief measures.

Though water has begun to recede from many submerged areas, many more still remain flooded, necessitating the rescue teams to continue to work on a war footing.

Two Naval vessels INS Shakti and INS Shyadhri arrived Chennai on Friday with relief materials, while limited air services were offered from the naval airbase at INS Rajali at Arakkonam, some 85 km west of Chennai.

With the water receding, the Chennai airport is expected to be operational for regular air services from Saturday.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma on Friday said staffs would be deployed at the Chennai airport and if there was no further rain on Saturday, the airport would be made operational.

“We have requested all airlines to maintain a price cap in this time of crisis to which they have given a positive response,” he added

Chairman of the Airport Authority of India R.K. Srivastava, meanwhile, told ANI, “The situation is under control and the water has receded from the airfield side. We have made it operational and from tomorrow it will start working. We have allowed operation for the ferry, technical and relief purpose.”

The southern railway, meanwhile, resumed limited operations from Chennai’s Egmore station on Friday with five special trains leaving for Kanyakumari, Sengottai, Tuticorin, Madurai and Tanjore.

The railway authorities have also announced special trains from Chennai Beach station to Hyderabad, Tirunelveli and Rameswaram. Similarly, a special train will be operated to Mangalore from Arakkonam railway station.

Road transportation has improved slightly in the city, with many closed down bridges and routes opening up. However, several subways are still submerged, forcing people to take circuitous routes to reach other areas.

Most of the petrol and diesel outlets in Chennai are not functional though Indian Oil sources said there is no shortage of fuel and the problem is only due to power failure.

The outflow of water from the Chembarampakkam reservoir and Poondi Lake in Tiruvallur district, which caused inundation in many South Chennai areas, is kept to the same level.

It is reported that as many as 18 patients died of short supply of oxygen due to snapping of electricity and failure of power generators at Madras Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (MIOT) hospital in Chennai.

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Radhakrishnan told mediapersons that the government has been assisting all private hospitals that sought help in shifting patients to other locations and the hospital and generators would be arranged if help was sought. However, 14 bodies were brought to Royapettah Government Hospital here.

Fishing activity came to a standstill as the sea is very rough in the delta district of Nagapattinam.

The district administration has announced that all educational institutions will remain closed on Saturday.

Farmers expressed fear that around 75 thousand acre paddy fields were facing the danger of submerging if rain continued unabated for a few more days. (ANI)