Flights to and out of Chennai have been cancelled and the airport is shut till 6 am tomorrow with water on the runway as the city battles heavy rain of the kind not seen in almost a 100 years. No flights have taken off from or landed in Chennai since 8:30 pm on Tuesday.
50 trains have also been cancelled, with water flooding rail tracks. About 700 people are stranded at the Chennai airport. Food and water is being provided to those stranded.
Asked when flights would resume, Civil Aviation Minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju said, "If the rain stops, only then can we give you some type of time frame but if it won't stop, then we can't say anything as Chennai and the neighbouring districts are badly affected. If water recedes, only then we will be able to to do something".
It rained incessantly since Monday into early Wednesday morning. The Met office says heavy rain is expected to continue for a week.
"Unfortunately, the water level is still rising and there is no way to divert the water. The Adyar river is still overflowing. We are working round the clock," Deepak Shastri, the Chennai Airport Director told NDTV on Tuesday night.
"Only if rain recedes, can we resume work. Runway is not flooded, but there is water. We don't consider operations at the moment safe. The under carriage (of aircraft) are almost touching water level, hence they cannot operate the flights. This kind of situation is likely to continue," he said.
Airlines made early morning announcements on Wednesday to inform people that flights continue to be cancelled.
The Army, the Navy and the National Disaster Response Force are out in Chennai to rescue people from their flooded homes.