Six dead as floods hit Mumbai

Texas may be reeling amid the worst flooding it's seen in 50 years but, in northeast India, torrential rain has killed more than 500 people, and there may be worse to come.
Many streets in Mumbai were inundated after the city received 29.8cm of rainfall over nine hours on Tuesday, in the worst rainfall in the region since 2005.
Many streets in Mumbai were inundated after the city received 29.8cm of rainfall over nine hours on Tuesday, in the worst rainfall in the region since 2005.PHOTO: REUTERS

More rain forecast in India's financial capital, with homes destroyed and traffic disrupted

MUMBAI • 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 yesterday.

Train services resumed slowly and dozens of commuters began walking to work in Mumbai, a city of 20 million people that is home to India's two biggest stock exchanges and the headquarters of several major companies.

Some low-lying areas remained under water, causing vehicles to be stranded, after the city received nearly a month's equivalent of rainfall in a single day. The authorities ordered schools and colleges to shut following forecasts of more rain. "There are several stranded cars and two-wheelers on the roads that we are clearing," said traffic police official Amitesh Kumar. "We are not expecting any major traffic jams as the machinery is geared up and the rain forecast is also not as bad."

Police said a 45-year-old woman and a 11/2-year-old child, members of the same family, died after their home in the north-eastern suburb of Vikhroli crumbled late on Tuesday, while a two-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 the streets.

Flights faced delays of up to 15 minutes, a spokesman 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 shanty town slums where more than half the city's population live.

LONG-TERM SOLUTION

Any long-term solution to Mumbai's frequent flooding problem needs to deal with the reduction in the catchment area of Mithi river. Unless the channels are widened and the plastic menace dealt with, other efforts may be inadequate.

A COMMENTARY IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

The city received 29.8cm of rainfall over nine hours on Tuesday, making it the worst rainfall in the region since 2005, Indian media reported. But one commentary ran by The Times Of India noted that Tuesday's downpour was hardly as bad as the nearly 95cm of rain that fell on the city on July 26, 2005.

It pointed to how continual building activity, such as the reclamation of land, had led to the choking of waterways. Reclamation of land had been carried out to link the seven islands that form Mumbai. The Mithi river, a major drainage channel of Mumbai, has become increasingly clogged with plastic and other solid waste.

"Any long-term solution to Mumbai's frequent flooding problem needs to deal with the reduction in the catchment area of Mithi river. Unless the channels are widened and the plastic menace dealt with, other efforts may be inadequate," said the commentary.

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 is Mumbai.

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

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Six dead as floods hit Mumbai'. Print Edition | Subscribe