Malaysian students in harrowing escape from Chennai floods

MS PREEYA DARSHINIE (above), Malaysian dentistry student, with classmates (from left) Christine Ting, Yuhasri Ulaganathan and Priithaa Darshinie in KualaLumpur International Airport after fleeing the Chennai floods.
MS PREEYA DARSHINIE (above), Malaysian dentistry student, with classmates (from left) Christine Ting, Yuhasri Ulaganathan and Priithaa Darshinie in KualaLumpur International Airport after fleeing the Chennai floods.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Hungry, tired and running out of money, four Malaysian dentistry students in Chennai braved waterlogged roads and a 400km bus ride to another Indian city to escape the floodwaters that had trapped them in their hostel.

Ms Preeya Darshinie, 20, her twin sister Priithaa, Ms Christine Ting, 21, and Ms Yuhasri Ulaganathan, 19, finally landed safely at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) from Bangalore, in Karnataka state, on Thursday. There are still about 30 more Malaysian students who are stuck in their hostel.

"They were scared to leave," said Ms Darshinie. "The Malaysian consul office said we could take shelter there, but it was near the Chennai airport, which was flooded, so we thought it would be flooded as well."

Recounting their harrowing experience, she said the students "suffered" after they found themselves stranded in their hostel for about a day with no food, water or electricity and no means to call for help.

RELIEF

We were packed like sardines but managed to make it for the 1am flight to KLIA. We were just relieved to get out. We just wanted to go home. We've never seen a flood like this before.

MS PREEYA DARSHINIE (far left), Malaysian dentistry student, with classmates (from left) Christine Ting, Yuhasri Ulaganathan and Priithaa Darshinie in Kuala Lumpur International Airport after fleeing the Chennai floods.

The hostel warden carried food through knee-deep floodwaters from the college canteen to the hostel, but Ms Ting said it was barely enough to feed them all.

Ms Ulaganathan managed to contact her family who booked tickets for them to fly home from Bangalore. The students packed their things and waded through the flooded roads while using a mop stick to jab at the ground for potholes.

They pushed through a crowd of hundreds and managed to get on a bus to Vellore, which was a four-hour ride away. They then had to sit in the aisle during a 215km bus journey to Bangalore as all the seats were taken.

"We were packed like sardines but managed to make it for the 1am flight to KLIA. We were just relieved to get out. We just wanted to go home. We've never seen a flood like this before," Ms Darshinie said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysian students in harrowing escape from Chennai floods'. Print Edition | Subscribe