A general view of buildings in Chennai on Thursday. Thousands of rescuers raced to evacuate residents from the deadly floods.

Giving top priority to the exigent situation in Tamil Nadu due to unprecedented floods, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday visited Chennai and announced immediate assistance of Rs 1,000 more crore to the state government. This is over and above the Rs 940 crore given by the Centre to Tamil Nadu during the earlier spell of rains in November. With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasting 100-mm plus rains for next three days in already inundated Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu, the Centre on Thursday revised its alert from critical to highly critical and very alarming.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Latest government reports put the death toll at 269 in Tamil Nadu, 54 in Andhra Pradesh and two in Puducherry. The estimate of loss to property that was earlier pegged at Rs 10,000 crore plus by the Tamil Nadu government is expected to go up substantially after the fresh rains. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union home minister Rajnath Singh described the situation in Chennai as most serious, comparing it to a submerged island. “In 24 hours, from December 1 to 2, Chennai received 330mm rainfall, which is 252mm more than the average rainfall it receives in the entire December, breaking a record of the last 100 years. This has created an unprecedented situation,” said Singh. The home minster said the rains have adversely affected telephone connectivity rendering 40% mobile and 20% landline connections non-functional that has increased the anxiety of the people. Out of the 1,500 stranded passengers at the Chennai airport, 1,200 have been evacuated by road and the remaining 300 are expected to be evacuated by night. With all routes leading to Chennai – rail road and air – disconnected, the Centre is using Arakkonam air strip, some 70 km from Chennai, to rush supplies and send troops and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel from where helicopters are being pressed into service to launch rescue and relief operations. As Chennai railway station has also gone under 2 feet water, the railway ministry is making plan to bring trains to the nearest possible place to evacuate stranded people from other states. Giving details of rescue operations, Singh said 28 NDRF teams, comprising of 944 personnel with 102 boats, seven Army columns, consisting of 434 personnel, 255 Navy personnel along with 20 divers and 12 boats have been pressed into action. Besides, the Indian Navy has dispatched INS Arihant, along with 20 divers and three boats, a medical team and a helicopter from Vizag to Chennai. The Army has had 40 rescue and relief teams and five engineer teams carrying out rescue operations in the most critical areas of Chennai on Thursday. These teams have been operating in areas which are the worst hit by the floods, namely Tambaram, Mudichur, Kothurpuram, Pallavaram, Thiruneermalai, Urapakkam, Manipakkam, T Nagar and Gudvancheri towards the outskirts of Chennai and also along areas adjacent to the Adyar river. The rescue teams have evacuated over 4,000 stranded people till Thursday evening and Military Hospital at St Thomas Mount has been made functional and treatment is being given to many flood-affected patients. NDRF and Army teams have also been dispatched to the affected parts of Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry. MPs, cutting across party lines in both Houses, asked him to press more men and material into rescue-and- relief operations. Cabinet secretary P K Sinha chaired the meeting of the national crisis management for the second day in succession to review the Tamil Nadu situation and held simultaneous meeting with the chief secretary of the state to assess the rescue efforts.

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Centre declares Tamil Nadu rains highly critical; PM Modi announces immediate assistance of Rs 1,000 crore