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Flood waters inundate homes and buildings in southern India

Indian residents carry children as they walk through floodwaters in Chennai on December 3, 2015.  Thousands of rescuers raced to evacuate residents from deadly flooding, as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to the southern state of Tamil Nadu to survey the devastation. More than 40,000 people have been rescued in recent days after record rains lashed the coastal state, worsening weeks of flooding that has killed 269 people.
Indian residents carry children as they walk through floodwaters in Chennai on December 3, 2015. Thousands of rescuers raced to evacuate residents from deadly flooding, as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to the southern state of Tamil Nadu to survey the devastation. More than 40,000 people have been rescued in recent days after record rains lashed the coastal state, worsening weeks of flooding that has killed 269 people. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

NEW DELHI – Tens of thousands of people were crowding into government-run relief camps in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state on Friday, as floods continued to swirl despite a respite from days of relentless rains.

By late morning, state capital Chennai had seen little or no rain for almost 24 hours. The government has set up 97 relief camps, which are currently providing food and shelter to an estimated 62,000 people. But local residents were still complaining bitterly that their homes remained inundated and help from the government was either very slow or entirely absent.

One woman told NDTV news channel that she was finally able to get on a rescue boat Friday, three days after the rains began to lash the city.

Scores of residents have formed groups to distribute aid – packets of food, bottled waters and even bed sheets – in worst-hit neighbourhoods.

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“What is heartwarming is that the people of Chennai are helping out,” said Arun Ebenezer, who has been forced to stay with a friend for three days after rain began to beat down over the city on Tuesday.

On Friday, he planned to try and make his way home, but was unsure about how far he could go.

Power supply has been erratic since the city turned off electricity to prevent deaths by electrocution. Mobile and fixed phone networks have been sporadic. Thousands of people have taken to Twitter and other social media to reach out to friends and family.

Access to the region remained closed with the main airport and train station still flooded.

The Indian Meteorological Department on Friday scaled down a forecast for very heavy rains, but added that more rain or thunderstorms were likely.