Chennai: Rains abated in Chennai today giving relief to people tormented by the heavy downpour of the last three days but excessive discharge of water last night from Chembarambakkam lake on the outskirts flooded new areas of the city threatening to uproot people from their homes.

Teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), army, navy and commandos of police and fire service personnel were deployed for rescue and relief works in the worst-affected areas of Kotturpuram, Jafferkhanpet and Nandanam on the banks of the Adyar river that has been in spate for the last two days.

For the first time in over 40 years, the water has risen rapidly on the river breaching the road and the Maraimalai Adigal bridge in Saidapet cutting the arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road), rendering it out of bounds for motorists.

Though there has been no rain since last night, the fresh flooding of the streets in the heart of the city in areas like Kodambakkam and T.Nagar and Ashok Nagar has been caused by the release of an estimated 30,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, one of city's source of drinking water.

The reservoir has been surplussing because of heavy inflow due to rains in the catchment area. The sky is overcast without any fresh rainfall and people are worried about the forecast of showers over the next three days.

Chief Minister Jayalaliathaa is likely to make an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas of Chennai and its suburbs and the neighbouring districts of Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram.

Milk and other essentials like vegetables are in short supply. A half-litre packet of milk was being sold at Rs.50 in many areas. Diesel and petrol are in short supply and there are long queues of motorists at the few number of petrol pumps that supply them.

Over 50,000 people have been rescued from flooded homes in various areas and lodged in relief centres opened by the Chennai Corporation.

The Air Force and Army are said to be rushing

in with supplies for the people in distress.

NDRF Director General O P Singh said the force will intensify its operations in the affected areas from today as more of its men are being deployed on the ground.

He said over 100 boats, 22 divers, 445 life jackets and 328 buoys have been pressed in by the force and more such rescue items are being dispatched.

The force has already tasked two DIG rank officers and a Commandant in Chennai to oversee operations in the affected areas.

A Navy official involved in the rescue efforts said that most of the places are flooded and lot of efforts are going on both on the ground and by air.

"An aircraft is going to evict people stranded at the civil airport. So we are going to establish an air bridge between Meenambakam civil airport at Chennai and Arakkonam.

The Airport Authority of India had late last night announced that Chennai airport will remain shut till December 6 in the wake of the downpour and predictions of more rains.

The death toll in the rains that have lashed the city and other parts of state has gone up to 197, officials said.

All modes of transport--air, road and rail services-- have been hit due to the unprecedented deluge, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the airport and various rail terminals.

Adding to the worry of the citizens and administration, the weatherman has forecast more rainfall under the influence of a trough of low pressure and upper air circulation over the southwest Bay of Bengal and Sri Lankan coast.

Thereafter, the state will see an anti-cyclone activity which will be associated with "heavy rains" at some places.

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