11/19/2015, 00.00
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A week of rains kills dozens in Chennai, paralyses city

Rain hit parts of Tamil Nadu state and northern Sri Lanka. The capital of the Indian state was the worst affected. Streets turn into rivers and people had to be rescued by boats. Schools are still closed. For PIME Father, the “ situation is tragic, especially in Chennai’s overcrowded slums.”

Chennai (AsiaNews) – For the past week, heavy rains have slammed into southern India with deadly results. Almost a hundred people have been killed, with the rest forced to put up with terrible conditions.

One of the worst affected places was Tamil Nadu's capital city, Chennai, where streets turned into rivers and many neighbourhoods went underwater.

“The situation is tragic, especially in Chennai’s overcrowded slums,” said a PIME clergyman working in Tamil Nadu. “School will be closed at least for two days”.

The death toll is still not complete. The New Kerala newspaper reported 95 dead, whilst the BBC said floods “killed “at least 71 people”.

When the rains began last Saturday evening (14 November), residents welcomed the respite from the city’s usual hot and humid weather.

After two day of non-stop rain, the situation grew worse when excess water in reservoirs was released to prevent flooding. That is when parts of the city were flooded.

Adding to the residents’ woes was the fact that excess water from the Chembarambakkam lake was released into the already polluted and stinking Adyar River, causing it to overflow.

In many areas of the city, the power supply has been halted to prevent incidents of electrocution.

The army, navy, air force and fire services have rescued people using boats and helicopters. An Indian taxi app service launched a free boat rescue service to help those stranded.

In Velachery district, a local resident described the situation as “unprecedented horror”.

"We live in a duplex house and the ground floor was sinking. The furniture was floating. We have never seen anything like this before," she told the BBC.

Tamil Nadu’s opposition political parties blame the state government, led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, for its failure to cope with the emergency.

Anti-government TV stations continue to broadcast scenes of urban devastation, claiming that Chennai is on the brink of all-out collapse and anarchy.

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