#ChennaiRainsHelp: Are our loved ones safe?
People stand on a flooded road in Chennai, India, December 2, 2015.
Dubai - Latest updates: Almost all flights to Chennai from the UAE's have been cancelled. Some flights have been diverted to nearby airports.
Indian expatriates from Chennai are concerned about their relatives back home, even as passengers have been stranded in the UAE's airports following the worst ever floods that submerged many parts of the city.
Around 10 daily flights from the UAE to the city were cancelled after the Chennai International Airport was closed due to flooding since Tuesday night.
Expats worried, flights cancelled as record rain paralyses Chennai
Almost all major airlines operating to India have a daily flight to Chennai from the UAE's various airports. All of them, along with flights to some other south Indian cities that originate from Chennai, have been cancelled. Some Chennai flights from the UAE have been diverted to nearby airports.
Air India manager for Dubai and Sharjah Prem Sagar said flight disruptions started "all of a sudden" on Tuesday night. "Yesterday it happened suddenly and passengers were already at the airport. They were quite reasonable as they know it is a natural calamity.
"Some people were going only for three days during the holidays here. We refunded some and made tickets valid for reissue for others without any charges.
"Apart from our Chennai flights, our Thiruvananthapuram flight from Sharjah also got cancelled because that flight originates from Chennai and didn't arrive," he said.
Due to holidays, most flights were full and not many passengers could be accommodated on other flights. Hence, he said, Air India has stopped sale of tickets to all other stations in south India so that it can accommodate Chennai passengers on other flights to fly them to as close as possible to the flooded city.
"Even if the rain subsides, they will have to ensure the strength and the readiness of the runway. So, we are not sure of operating the flights tomorrow (Thursday) as well."
Etihad Airways said it has cancelled Abu Dhabi-Chennai services from December 2 to 7.
'Are our loved ones safe?'
Meanwhile, expatriates from Chennai and UAE-based parents whose children study in Chennai are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Disruptions in telephone networks have added to their woes since they are unable to keep in touch with relatives.
"People here are very much worried about their parents and relatives back home. The government's support is very poor," said Usman Mohammed Ibrahim, an engineer in Sharjah, whose father and siblings live in south Chennai .
"The entire south Chennai is marooned. People can't go out of their homes. Luckily, the situation in the area where my house is located is slightly better than the other places over there. We are worried because we can't contact our relatives."
Priya Sivakumar, a Dubai resident whose daughter studies in Porur, said the latter was stuck inside the hostel. "We were trying to reach her. But, the network was down since morning. Luckily, once she managed to call and said she is safe. Everybody is saying the hostel is safe because they are getting food and there is power over there. But we are still worried because more rains are expected in four days."