Floods swamp Mumbai after month’s worth of rain falls in a single day

Commuter trains shut down, buses were half-submerged under water and even the deluged airport had to divert flights to other cities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 2:11pm

Two toddlers were among at least six people who died after floods caused by heavy seasonal monsoon rains destroyed homes and disrupted traffic in India’s financial capital, police said on Wednesday.

Some people were forced to abandon their submerged cars to walk home through flooded streets in Mumbai, a city of 20 million people after it received nearly a month’s equivalent of rainfall in a single day.

Hundreds of others were stranded at railway stations, waiting for rescue workers to help them go back home as authorities ordered schools and colleges to shut following forecasts of more rain.

Navy helicopters have been kept on standby with flood rescue teams and divers also ready for deployment.

“I had to stay the night at my office since train services were cancelled. My son also could not get home because of the heavy flooding,” Vijaya Das, who works for the Reserve Bank of India, said.

Police said a 45-year-old woman and a 1-1/2-year-old child, members of the same family, died after their home in the northeastern suburb of Vikhroli crumbled late on Tuesday, while a 2-year-old girl died in a wall collapse.

In the neighbouring city of Thane, three people died after being swept away by floods, police added.

Several firms made arrangements to provide food and rest areas for employees stuck in offices, while officials of temples and religious bodies offered help to those stranded on streets.

Flights faced delays of up to 15 minutes, a spokeswoman for the Mumbai airport said, following several cancellations late on Tuesday.

The deluge revived memories of 2005 floods that killed more than 500 people, the majority of them in shantytown slums where more than half the city’s population lives.

Unabated construction on floodplains and coastal areas, as well as stormwater drains and waterways clogged by plastic garbage have made the city increasingly vulnerable to storms.

In a message on social network Twitter, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered crisis-mitigation assistance to the government of Maharashtra, the western state whose capital Mumbai is.

More than 1,200 people have died across India, Bangladesh and Nepal in the worst floods to strike South Asia in years.

Reuters, Agence France-Pressee, Associated Press