ARAKONNAM: Around 130 people including over 60 university students and an old French couple were flown to Delhi from here today after they were taken to safety by a coordinated team of defence and NDRF personnel.
Clear weather provided an opportunity to the Air Force team to carry our greater number of sorties for relief and rescue operations.
"About 70 students from campuses of SRM University and Vellore Institute of Technology, who had been rescued till yesterday, were today flown out from Arakonnam Base to Delhi.
They were assembled at the Tambaram Air Base, from where they were first flown to Arakonnam by Mi-14 choppers, in batches of 20," a senior IAF official told PTI.
Many students of city-based SRM University and VIT Chennai campus, both of which were badly-hit by the torrential rains, especially the one that took place a few days ago, were left stranded on the upper floors of their hostels.
VIT Vellore students, who were on their way back home after the end of examinations, were also left stranded at the airport and railway stations for several days until civil or defence help arrived.
"One of the private airlines, which is running a few relief flights from here took about 130 civilians to Delhi in their flight this afternoon. While two flights flew in the
morning to Hyderabad and Bangalore routes, three-four more are lined up, but it is not as yet known how many would fly today," a defence official here said.
The flight landed at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport at its domestic terminal early tonight.
No sooner had the aircraft touched down in the national capital, students and elderly heaved a sigh of relief.
19-year-old Akhshay Jyoti, son of a retired commander in Navy, was feeling proud and overjoyed, while boarding the flight at the Arakonnam Naval Base, 70 km west of the capital city in Vellore district.
"We were stuck in our university for a few days after the last heavy rain and later a 'Chetak' came and airlifted five of us students.
"We were then brought to the Tambaram Base (nearly 30 km from Chennai) from where we came here today," he said, adding, "I am getting rescued by defence forces on Navy Day and from a Naval base, I couldn't have felt prouder."
About 300 people were rescued and flown to safety yesterday, including 120 of them, who were flown to Delhi in a C-130J Super Hercules. The civilians today were also initially said to be flown in a C-17 Globemaster, however, no defence official confirmed the plan.
A C-17 had carried over 100 people to Hyderabad yesterday.
Mumbai-native Sankalp Mohapatra, 21, was stranded for nearly three days at that Chennai Airport along with several of his friends from VIT, all of whom were to catch a flight, on way back to their hometown, little knowing that they had something else in store.