Multiple flights from the UAE to Chennai were cancelled or diverted Monday as the south Indian city reeled under heavy rainfall. Roads, airports and public facilities in the city have been flooded, with videos posted on social media showing cars being washed away as muddy waters streamed across neighbourhoods.

Chennai’s airport operator said the airfield has been closed at least till 11pm Monday “due to severe weather conditions”. Social media videos showed the airport’s runway and apron flooded.

Etihad Airways said it cancelled two flights (EY246/247 and EY270/271) between Abu Dhabi and Chennai on December 4. The airline is planning to operate a larger aircraft on December 5 so as to accommodate affected passengers. Airport staff will assist passengers booked on the cancelled flights, an airline spokesperson told Khaleej Times. “The weather conditions in Chennai are likely to continue to affect services to the area for the rest of today and into tomorrow.”

The airline has advised passengers to ensure their contact details are up to date to ensure they receive the latest flight information via SMS or email.

A flydubai flight (FZ-449) from Dubai International (DXB) to Chennai was diverted to Bengaluru. "Passengers were provided with refreshments and ground transportation to their final destination. flydubai's return flight FZ-450 has been cancelled due to the persisting weather conditions in Chennai and our team is currently working on alternative travel plans for our passengers," a spokesperson for the carrier said.

A spokesperson for Air India said that they were closely monitoring the situation. “Our next flight is only at night and it will be flying from Chennai to the UAE,” he said. “The runway is closed till later tonight. We are monitoring the situation and will issue an advisory closer to the time of the flight.”

Residents had to cancel travel plans to Chennai, while some others were stranded in the city due to flight cancellations.

Abu Dhabi resident Rashid was in Chennai for work-related meetings and was due to return late on Monday night. “I was booked to return on December 4 on the 11.50pm Air Arabia flight from Chennai to Abu Dhabi, but it was cancelled,” he said. “Now my flight has been rebooked for Wednesday morning. I am hoping the conditions improve by then.”

Heavy rains are expected to lash Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh for 24 hours as India braces for severe cyclonic storm Michaung to make landfall.

In Tamil Nadu, authorities declared a public holiday in four coastal districts. People in capital city Chennai has been asked to stay indoors.

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