India hit hard by flooding

Posted at 8:35 AM, Dec 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-05 08:35:48-05

(CNN) -- More heavy rainfall is forecast for Chennai, one of India's largest cities, where massive floods this week have inundated multilane highways, an airport runway, streets and homes.

Emergency workers, including the Indian armed forces, rescued more than 120,000 people Wednesday and Thursday, and operations are ongoing, K.S. Kandaswamy, deputy commissioner of Chennai Corporation, told CNN.

At least 269 people have died since October 26, when the unusually heavy monsoon rains began in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Photographs of Chennai's airport showed planes grounded by floodwater, and as of Thursday morning, some 250 passengers were stranded. The airport is expected to remain closed until noon Sunday, and flights have been canceled and diverted.

Emotional images of dramatic rescues in inflatable boats and civilians hoisting people over muddy flood waters have been posted on social media under the hashtag #Chennaifloods.

One video showed residents forming a human chain through perilously fast-moving flood waters to rescue a stranded pedestrian.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the region Thursday and said he was "pained" by the devastation he witnessed from the air and on the ground. He pledged $290 million in relief funds.

Laxman Singh Rathore, director of the Indian Meteorological Department, told CNN that the downpours were unlikely to cease this week, with heavy rain forecast for the next 48 hours.

Chennai, a city of 9 million people, received more 350 mm of rain Wednesday -- more than double the amount it usually receives in December, according to CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

Roshni Majumdar contributed to this report.

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