US offers help in Chennai floods

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Dec 4 (IANS): Calling India a "strong partner" the US has said that it stands ready "to assist the people of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, as well as the Government of India as they face the worst flooding in decades."

"The US is in touch with the Government of India to discuss ways that we can provide any assistance at this difficult time," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Thursday.

"We express our deepest condolences to the families of the people who have perished in these floods, and our thoughts are with those families who are still trapped and whose livelihoods are affected," he said.

Asked if India had accepted the US offer, Toner said: "We've offered our assistance. Certainly, India - it's a very developed government with its own domestic services or capabilities to provide emergency assistance."

"That said, it's something we normally do especially in the cases of strong partners like India, where we offer whatever assistance we can in the aftermath of natural disaster."

The US Consulate General in Chennai had also issued an Emergency Message for US citizens, obviously warning of the severe flooding taking place in the region, Toner said.

The consulate was closed for all services Thursday and Friday, and US citizens have been advised to divert all travel to the area, he said.

Those in the region are advised to shelter in place, but both Indians and American citizens should monitor the consulate general's website for updates on that, Toner said.

The spokesman said they were also "not aware of any US citizen deaths or injuries as a result of the flooding. We obviously are continuing to monitor the situation and stand by to provide any and all consular assistance that we can."


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