Nearly 300 Killed in Floods in Southern India

06 December, 2015

As world leaders gathered in France this week to talk about climate change, the residents of a city in southern India are enduring the worst rains in more than 100 years.

Chennai received 330 millimeters of rain in 24 hours. According to one government official, that is about 50 percent more rain than the city receives on average in the entire month of December.

While the rain let up Thursday, local meteorologists are calling for more rain this weekend.

Residents wade through a flooded street as they evacuate their homes in Chennai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, Dec. 3, 2015.
Residents wade through a flooded street as they evacuate their homes in Chennai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, Dec. 3, 2015.

Thousands of people are stranded on rooftops, forced from their homes or awaiting flights at closed airports.

Over 4 million people live in Chennai and many are without power because of the rain.

Military, police and disaster teams are working to rescue people stranded in flooded areas. The Air Force is using helicopters to deliver food aid.

The heavy rains started in November, and so far, 269 people have died.

The months of October, November and December are always rainy in southern India, but meteorologists say the extreme rain is related to a low-pressure area in the Bay of Bengal.

The country's environment minister says he is not able to directly connect the freak rainfall to climate change.

But climate experts say rising global temperatures cause more intense rains than normal.

The rain came the same week India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at the COP21 Climate Change conference in France.

On Monday, Modi talked about the need for richer, more industrialized countries to compensate poorer countries for affecting the world's climate.

Modi is talking about the idea, for example, that emissions from a coal-burning power plant in one country can affect the climate in a country thousands of miles away.

One environment expert in New Dehli says India suffered economic losses of $25 billion to $30 billion due to extreme weather in the last five years.

Modi returned to India on Thursday to survey the damage.

I'm ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dan Friedell.

Anjana Pasricha wrote this story for Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Are the rains in India caused by climate change? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

await – v. to wait for (someone or something)

emissions – n. the act of producing or sending out something (such as energy or gas) from a source

endure – v. to deal with or accept (something unpleasant)

strand – v. to leave (a person or animal) in a place without a way of leaving it — usually used as (be) stranded