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Rain batters Mumbai
Death toll seven; air and rail traffic hit 
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 4
At least seven persons have died in Mumbai following heavy rains since Monday morning, according to information available with the Disaster Management Cell set up by the Maharashtra Government to oversee rescue and relief operations.

While two persons drowned in the flood waters, the others succumbed to house collapses and electrocution, according to the authorities. Further details were awaited.

Heavy rains since Monday morning resulted in many neighbourhoods being flooded. The Mumbai airport had to suspend operations for several hours as heavy rain flooded the two runways .AAI officials said flights were yet to resume as technicians were conducting checks on equipment. Flights scheduled to land in Mumbai were diverted to Ahmedabad and Baroda.

Train services to Mumbai have been affected. The Rajdhani Express departure from Mumbai has been rescheduled as rail links on the outskirts of Mumbai are under water. Local trains on both Central and Western Railways were cancelled as office-goers thronged railway stations waiting for onward transport.

Services on the Harbour Branch section of the Central Railway have been stopped as flood waters are yet to recede, according to a CR spokesperson.

The Weather Bureau has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall in Mumbai for the next 48 hours. On Monday, the city received 131.48 mm rain in the western suburbs, 160.5 mm in the eastern suburbs and 127.3 mm in the city.

The authorities warned members of the public from venturing out unless absolutely necessary as the city’s drainage systems were to be shut off during high tide. Water levels in low-lying areas, including Northern and Central Mumbai, continued to rise as incessant rains continued.

Schools, colleges shut

Most schools and colleges in the city were shut as local managements were allowed to decide on their functioning. Schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation were closed as the civic administration declared a holiday.

However ,the decision was too late as many children had already arrived for classes. The Mumbai Pune Expressway was shut down following a huge landslide on Monday evening and traffic diverted via Lonavala last night. The traffic was partially restored today though vehicular movement was slow.

Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph and Police Commissioner A N Roy undertook tours of the city to co-ordinate rescue operations. “Traffic has been diverted from flooded roads," they said.

“We have asked people not to leave home unless necessary,” Mr Roy later told reporters.

Angered by persistent queries , Mr Joseph denied that his administration was slack in cleaning up the city. “We are not being inactive. Water is being pumped out from low-lying areas and our rescue teams are in the field,” Mr Joseph said.

Evacuation

The administration called in police to evacuate people from low-lying areas. The police drove away hundreds of slum dwellers living along the Mithi river ,which is overflowing.

Officials said the flooding at the airport today was caused by sewage and sludge washed up by the Mithi.

Rescue workers sporting bright blue and orange vests were seen tying yellow ropes on flooded roads to help people wade through waist-deep muddy water. The met department said the rainfall would continue for another 48-72 hours. According to the bureau, the depression on the East Coast was weakening and was heading towards Maharashtra. This would bring more rain to Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh over the next few days.

Power off

Reliance Energy Ltd said here that it had shut some if its installations in Mumbai suburbs of Malad, Goregaon and Andheri due to heavy flooding. According to the company, its transformers in some lowying areas are submerged under water and power supply had to be cut off to prevent electrocution.

ONGC output hit

Meanwhile oil output from ONGC’s Bombay High offshore field has been badly hit by the rains. Oil output is yet to be restored after an oil rig was destroyed in an accident in July, 2005. Restoration work has been disrupted by bad weather and it would be another fortnight before normal supplies are resumed, according to officials.

 

 



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