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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Six killed, thousands stranded as floods swamp Mumbai

India's financial hub has been inundated by days of intense monsoon rains, paralysing transportation and destroying homes

 

At least six people, including two toddlers, were killed in Mumbai as torrential downpours triggered floods and left thousands stranded on Wednesday.

India’s financial centre, home to more than 20 million people, has been inundated by days of intense monsoon rains, paralysing transport and destroying homes.

A 40-year-old and two children were killed when two houses in the northeastern suburb of Vikhroli collapsed on Tuesday, a police official told AFP.

“A house on a higher level collapsed on the one below, which trapped the residents. Rescue work is going on to clear the debris,” he said.

Three others died after being swept away by floods in the neighbouring city of Thane, police added.

“Stay indoors as far as possible,” Mumbai police tweeted. “Move out only if it is very important. Due to waterlogged roads, traffic not moving and slow at most places.”

The city was bracing for more rain on Wednesday, with the weather forecast office warning of “heavy to very heavy” rainfall for parts of Mumbai.

Commuter trains shut down, buses were half-submerged and even the airport had to divert flights to other cities. By yesterday morning, most trains were running but traffic remained chaotic as low-lying areas remained under water.

Dozens of commuters waded through waist-deep water on Tuesday evening.

Heavy torrential downpours have brought Mumbai to a virtual standstill flooding streets, causing transport chaos and prompting warnings to stay indoors. Dozens of flights and local train services were also cancelled as rains lashed the coastal city. Punit Paranjpe/AFP Photo
Heavy torrential downpours have brought Mumbai to a virtual standstill flooding streets, causing transport chaos and prompting warnings to stay indoors. Dozens of flights and local train services were also cancelled as rains lashed the coastal city. Punit Paranjpe/AFP Photo

"I could not find any mode of transport and spent my night on the streets instead of trying to reach home," 62-year-old Gangadin Gupta told AFP.

Many people were stranded for much of the night until the rail network reopened early Wednesday.

“There are several stranded cars and two-wheelers on the roads that we are clearing,” traffic police official Amitesh Kumar told AFP.

“We are not expecting any major traffic jams as the machinery is geared up and the rain forecast is also not as bad.”

The city had nearly a month’s equivalent of rainfall in a single day. Schools and colleges were ordered to shut after more rain was forecast.

Residents of Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums and home to more than a million people, said much of the low-lying area was under water.

"Most of the shanties and houses in Dharavi were submerged in water and we lost all our valuables," Selvam Sathya, 45, told AFP.

"All of us took refuge on the first floor of different buildings and the water only started receding this morning... I lost all my belongings in the flooding."

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Fore more:

More than 16 million affected by flooding in South Asia

Pictures: Nepal flood clean-up under way after hundreds killed

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The city's dabbawallahs, who deliver hundreds of thousands of hot lunches from commuters' homes to offices every day, were also forced to stop delivery.

Many of the more than 5,000 dabbawallahs were left stranded in the city overnight, a spokesman for the Mumbai Dabbawallha Association told the Press Trust of India.

Navy helicopters were on standby while flood rescue teams and divers ready for deployment.

Hundreds of peoples were stranded at railway stations, waiting for rescue workers to help them get home amid warnings of further heavy rain yesterday.

“I had to stay the night at my office because train services were cancelled. My son also could not get home because of the heavy flooding,” said bank worker Vijaya Das.

India’s monsoon season runs from June through September.

The city struggles to cope with the annual deluge each year, drawing criticism about its poor planning.

In 2005, Mumbai experienced catastrophic flooding which shut down electricity and public transport and left hundreds dead.

Floods have killed more than 1,000 people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh in recent weeks and affected close to 40 million across northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh. Millions have been forced from their homes in the region’s worst monsoon disaster in recent years.

The rains have led to wide-scale flooding in a broad arc stretching across the Himalayan foothills in the three countries, causing landslides, damaging roads and electric towers and washing away tens of thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland.

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