Next 48 Hours for Chennai are Very Critical: IMD

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Chennai: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday said rains to continue for next 72 hours but next 48 hours are very critical as heavy rainfall is expected in Chennai which has thrown normal life out of gear.

As many as 3,500 people, including 1,500 passengers, were stranded this morning at the Chennai international airport, which has been closed for operations till next morning following flooding of the runway.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) said all the stranded passengers are being moved out of the airport, but did not reveal the exact number of those evacuated so far. Chennai’s Infotech hub was shut down this morning following heavy flooding in the area. Most companies are struggling to get the stranded employees home safely.

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The city is a major IT outsourcing hub for companies including Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant Technology Solutions.In a statement, IT major Infosys said they were closing the campuses as a “precautionary measure”.

A NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) has been issued by AAI, which manages the airport, to all air operators with regard to suspension of flight operations till 6 am tomorrow. This notice is a communication that informs pilots about potential risks to flight safety.

Around 1,500 passengers and 2,000 others working at the airport were stranded there in the morning, AAI Chairman R K Srivastava said.

The process of evacuation of passengers is underway and the exercise is expected to be completed by this evening. “All passengers are expected to be evacuated by 4 PM today. AAI has arranged six buses to evacuate the passengers from the airport,” Srivastava said in New Delhi.

Srivastava said 66 arrivals and 53 departures have been cancelled since 2000 hours yesterday. “The runway is flooded but the terminal building is safe,” he added.

Chennai Airport authorities had initially shut operations till this morning but extended following incessant rains. Nearly 35-37 aircraft, mostly of domestic airliners, are grounded at the airport.

The situation at the airport would be reviewed again tomorrow before giving the go ahead for resumption of flight operations, Srivastava said. Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju said everything has been “paralysed” at the airport.