Devastation in India as 100-year-flood sweeps Chennai
Saturday, December 5, 2015, 1:58 PM -
Though the rains have eased in the south Indian city of Chennai, the devastation -- and the death toll -- remains.
The metropolis, India's fourth largest with nine million people living in and around the city, was drenched for weeks by intense rains.
The Indian Express says the region got more than 1,200 mm of rain over the entire month of November, three times the average. And it didn't stop as December dawned, with 374 mm recorded in Chennai on the very first day the month
The BBC reports at least 7,000 people have been rescued, some by helicopter by the Indian armed forces, but as the floodwaters recede, that number is sure to rise as rescuers are able to penetrate the worst-hit areas.
At least 260 people have been killed, a toll that will also likely rise over the coming days. Among the dead are 18 patients in an intensive care unit at a hospital that lost power during the worst of the flooding.
Aside from the human cost, the floods have devastated travel infrastructure throughout the region.
Several major train routes were closed, with service expected to partially resume early Sunday, according to The Hindu.
More spectacularly, planes at the city's airport were partially submerged as floodwaters spread over the tarmac.
Partial service is expected to be restored at the airport by around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, authorities say.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged around $150 million in relief funds for the city, a major industrial hub whose factories, oil refineries and schools were forced to close during the worst of the floods.
The latest rains are a result of a depression in the Bay of Bengal, although India's meteorological agency says this year's active El Nino likely contributed to their intensity.
The Express says the devastating flooding was partly due to a storm water drainage system inadequate to handle the worst rains in a century.
Ironically, the rains may have helped clear the air of pollution, which in India is some of the most intense of the world.
China was the country grabbing the headlines last month as some of the worst air pollution in recent memory descended upon northern cities, before a cold front brought strong winds to blow much of it away.
However, India is home to several of the top-10 most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization, with six appearances on the list, including the top four.
According to a review in Mashable, Delhi sits at the top of the list, with 153 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic metre. PM 2.5 is the WHO's designation for particles 2.5 microns in width or less, which can build up in a person's lungs, leading to respiratory problems, and eventually a premature death if exposure is prolonged.
Mashable says around 3.7 million deaths worldwide were attributed to air pollution in 2012.