Heavy rains batter Mumbai, disrupt life, main runway shut

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Commuters walk through water-logged roads after rains in Mumbai, India, August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

MUMBAI – Torrential rains battered Mumbai and parts of Maharashtra on Wednesday, disrupting normal life in the country’s financial capital. Flights were badly hit after a private airline skidded on Mumbai airport’s main runway, forcing its closure.

Air India technicians were helping the airport authorities to remove the stuck SpiceJet aircraft to clear the main runway for regular operations. It is expected to open at 6 a.m. on Thursday.

Flights were landing on and taking off from a secondary and shorter runway, leading to huge delays, diversions, go-arounds and cancellations since Tuesday night, officials said.

Since Tuesday night till Wednesday morning, over five dozen flights were diverted to Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Another more than 100 flights, including international ones, were cancelled.

The IMD said Mumbai suburbs recorded a whopping 354 mm rainfall till Wednesday morning, making it the second highest downpour on a single day since the great Mumbai floods when the city experienced 945 mm rains.

The previous high record was on August 29 when Mumbai recorded 316 mm rainfall.

A 22-member Zimbabwe Under-19 team, which was supposed to reach Mumbai on Tuesday, was stuck at the Nagpur airport and later accommodated in hotels.

But Air India passengers stuck in Nagpur faced a harrowing time as the airline could not arrange for sufficient hotel rooms that were booked mostly by private airlines, said an official.

A SpiceJet Boeing aircraft skidded due to the wet runway in Mumbai, triggering a chain of disruptions.

All through Wednesday, heavy rains continued to clobber Mumbai, the entire coastal Konkan region and parts of western and northern Maharashtra, affecting normal life in various cities, towns and villages, for the second time in three weeks.

As a precaution, Education Minister Vinod Tawde announced the closure of all schools and colleges in Mumbai metropolitan region.

Fortunately, the city’s critical lifeline, the suburban trains and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus services, functioned all day, despite delays.

The IMD, which had forecast heavy and widespread rains in the state till Saturday, revised its predictions for Mumbai and surrounding areas, which can now expect “intermittent rains for next two days in few places”.

Till Wednesday morning, the IMD said Mumbai suburbs received 304 mm rains while the city experienced 210 mm rainfall.

Mumbai’s famed Dabbawalas cancelled their normal delivery of 200,000 tiffin boxes to Mumbaikars on Wednesday.

Several low-lying areas in central Mumbai like Parel and Dadar and some areas of the suburbs like Chembur, Kurla, Andheri, Malad, Borivali and Dahisar experienced water-logging, slowing down the morning office-bound traffic.

In the Konkan region, many towns and villages experienced water-logging in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Palghar districts, disrupting normal life.

In Nashik, Kolhapur and Pune districts, torrential rains resulted in low-lying areas getting flooded in the major cities and hampering normal movement of people and traffic.

There were reports of over a dozen people going missing, washed away in floodwaters and in the Arabian Sea but there was no official confirmation.