Monsoon mayhem: 8,500 people rescued in Mumbai, city gets full rain quota
In a season marked by intense spells of rain and the wettest July on record, Mumbai by Sunday received a season’s total of 2,394.3mm of rain compared to an annual season’s average of 2,317.2mm, with 57 days left for the monsoon to officially end.
The day was marked by more flooding, evacuations, deaths, public transport disruptions and kilometres-long traffic jams in the city and the extended Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) that encompasses nine municipal corporations including Navi Mumbai, Thane and Panvel.
In a 15-hour operation on Sunday, the Indian Army and the Thane Municipal Corporation personnel rescued more than 8,500 people stranded in flooded Diva – around 50km north-east of Mumbai. The flood was caused after authorities decided to release water from the overflowing Barvi dam.
In neighbouring Kalyan, also in MMR, authorities airlifted 59 people to safety, while in Mumbai city, 400 people living in Kurla on the banks of the polluted Mithi river were evacuated after the river swelled to “dangerous” level on Sunday morning. Later in the day, two people died of electrocution in Vakola, north-west Mumbai, following which residents held a ‘rasta roko’ on the arterial Western Express Highway for close to 45 minutes, holding up traffic. In Dharavi, a man, in his 20s, fell into the overflowing Mithi River and is suspected to have drowned. Santosh Kadam, chief officer of the Regional Disaster Management Cell, Thane, said, “An Indian Army team along with our disaster response team and fire brigade helped rescue the villagers. We have shifted all these people to civic schools in Thane, Mumbra.” With nowhere to go, at least a 1,000 rescued people from Mumbra and Diva spent the night at the two railway stations.
residents of Jugaon village in Khadavli in Thane district were stranded on Sunday after Kalyan received 307.6mm of rain in 24 hours, causing Ulhas River to overflow.
“On the request of the state government, the Indian Air Force deployed an Mi-17 helicopter to rescue the stranded people,” a defence spokesperson said. The rescued residents were brought to the Air Force base camp in Kolshet in Thane.
“The villagers were provided with food and medical aid. They can stay in TMC schools till it is safe for them to return to their villages,” the spokesperson added. Meanwhile, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) evacuated 400 people in Kranti Nagar, Kurla after a swollen Mithi River threatened to submerge their homes.
The city’s Disaster Management Cell department moved the evacuated residents to nearby Bazarwad municipal school, where they are being provided food and water and are being attended to by doctors. “They residents were asked to carry only cash and important documents,” a disaster management official told HT. “Mithi’s water level touched the ‘dangerous’ mark at 3.5 metres at 7am and rose to 4 metres at 9.15am.” Earlier, on July 27, over a thousand passengers stranded in Mahalaxmi Express between the flooded Vagani and Badlapur, were rescued by the National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF), Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
The 24-hour rainfall – 204mm – recorded between 8.30am Saturday and 8.30am Sunday is among the highest August figures since 2011. On August 30, 2017, Mumbai recorded 331.4mm of rain, the highest for the decade, while 232.9 was recorded on August 29, 2011. The all-time August 24-hour rain was recorded on August 23, 1997 at 346.2mm. Incessant rain for two days resulted waterlogged railway tracks on both Central and Harbour suburban rail lines in Mumbai. Central Railway services were suspended for 12 hours, and resumed only at 7.52 pm. Mumbai Airport saw flight delays through the day, with more than 350 flights affected.
Rainfall on Saturday and Sunday was primarily driven by thunderstorms, said experts. “High orography (presence of mountains or hills in a particular area obstructing rain) around Thane district seems to be among the main reasons for more rainfall activity compared to Mumbai,” said Akshay Deoras, meteorologist and PhD researcher at the department of meteorology, University of Reading, UK. “Hills can obstruct cloud movement or assist in triggering thunderstorms, which leads to intense precipitation in such cases.”