MUMBAI: People enjoy rain showers near the sea front in Mumbai on July 8, 2024.  — AFP
MUMBAI: People enjoy rain showers near the sea front in Mumbai on July 8, 2024. — AFP

Monsoon storms kill 12 in India, disrupt transport

MUMBAI: Intense monsoon storms battered India on Monday, flooding parts of the financial capital Mumbai, while lightning in the eastern state of Bihar killed at least 10 people, government officials said.

Mumbai’s city council ordered schools and colleges shut Monday as a precautionary measure, reporting that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had warned of “heavy to very heavy rainfall”.

Just ahead of the morning rush hour, more than 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rain lashed the city of 12 million in the six hours through 7:00 am (1:30 am GMT), civic officials said in a statement. More heavy showers were forecast, accompanying a high tide of 4.40 meters (14 ft) in the coastal city. “There is heavy traffic on the roads and rail lines too have been affected,” Eknath Shinde, chief minister of Maharashtra, the western state whose capital is Mumbai, said on X, urging people to stay indoors.

Mumbai commuters waded through knee-deep water that partially submerged vehicles in many areas, while traffic clogged the city’s Eastern and Western Express highways. Water on the tracks forced railway authorities to cancel some long-distance trains. Television images showed some suburban passenger trains halted on inundated lines and some commuters walking on tracks to reach their destination. “Mumbai and rain-induced flooding is an annual occurrence. My BMW car is stuck in the floodwater,” Anil Bore told ANI news agency, in which Reuters has a minority stake.

Widespread flooding

In Bihar state in the east, separate cases of lightning strikes killed 12 people, taking the toll from such incidents to 20 since the start of July, a state government official said. More than 2 million people have also been affected by rivers flooding in northeastern Assam, where the Kaziranga National Park, home to the rare one-horned rhinoceros, was inundated. Six of the animals drowned, authorities said on Sunday. Assam authorities said 66 people have died in floods and rain-related incidents since May. Flooding has also affected 31 villages in Uttar Pradesh state on the Nepal border, the state government said.

Monsoon rains across South Asia from June to September offer respite from the summer heat and are crucial to replenishing water supplies, but also bring widespread death and destruction. The number of fatal floods and landslides has increased in recent years, however, and experts say climate change is exacerbating the problem.

Torrential rains have triggered floods and landslides in Nepal, where at least 11 people were killed. In Bangladesh, more than two million people were affected by the third wave of flooding since May, with 300,000 stranded in the north, officials from the disaster management ministry said.

With heavy rain forecast in coming days, the situation could deteriorate, officials added. “We’re definitely seeing more rain this year. It’s making it tough for people, especially in low-lying areas, to secure their belongings and reach shelters in time,” said Liakath Ali, head of climate change program at development agency BRAC.

Just 10 days after record-breaking showers in New Delhi caused the fatal collapse of an airport roof, Monday’s Mumbai rains also disrupted air travel. Airport authorities had to suspend runway operations for more than an hour from 2:22 am, airport sources said. More than 430 flights were delayed and 49 cancelled, Flightradar24, a website that tracks flight data, showed. Airlines IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India were among those reporting disruptions. — Agencies

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