India: Parts of Bombay still flooded, more rain expected

News and Press Release
Originally published
By Rosemary Arackaparambil and Braden Reddall

BOMBAY, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Transport in Bombay resumed near-normal service on Tuesday as heavy monsoon rains finally let up around India's financial capital, but parts of the city remained under water.

Weather officials forecast more rains, but said they didn't expect it to be on the scale that wrought death and destruction in the sprawling metropolis last week.

Officials said 942 people died in last week's floods in the western state of Maharashtra, including 429 in the capital Bombay due to landslides, drowning and electrocution in floodwater. A further 109 people were injured in the state and 59 were missing.

More rain and floods on Monday closed key roads and delayed trains in Bombay, a city of more than 15 million people.

"We expect a decline in the rainfall activity in Maharashtra on Tuesday, with only coastal areas of the state getting heavy rains," said an official of the India Meteorological Department.

Officials define 'heavy' rain as more than 6.5 cm (2.6 inches), which pales compared to the 94 cm that pounded the city last Tuesday and set off days of deadly flooding and disruption.

Authorities said they had evacuated about 25,000 people living near dams in parts of Maharashtra.

"We have taken adequate precautions to evacuate more people in case there is a rise in the water level of these dams," said Suresh Kakine, a director for relief for the state. "Today seems to be normal and water levels are receding."

About 300 cases of cholera, gastroenteritis and dysentry have been reported in the state, he added. Medical teams have been deployed to help treat the injured and cremate the dead.

Disease remains a threat in Bombay as many dead bodies and animal carcasses have not yet been cleared. Clean water is scarce as supplies were contaminated by sewage and power outages have prevented some pumping stations from starting.

Losses for the state have been estimated at up to 20 billion rupees ($460 million), and small businesses alone have lost an estimated 10 billion rupees, according to an industry body. Pfizer Ltd. <PFIZ.BO>, the Indian unit of the world's largest drug maker, estimated its flood losses at 1 billion rupees.

Residents of Kalina, one of the worst-affected areas of Bombay, have formed an organisation to demand an investigation into the flooding and the response by authorities.

"We had no power or water for four days and we couldn't step out because the water was chest-high and cars were submerged. Phone lines were also down. We made do with whatever we had," said Myrtle Moses, who lives in the area.

Long-distance trains on some routes have been cancelled for a week. But Bombay airport, where a plane skidded off the runway on Saturday, was functioning "close to normal", according to the airport director, Sudhir Kumar.

In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, just north of Maharasthra, heavy rains have killed nine people in the past day.

Vivek Agrawal, a senior district offical in Madhya Pradesh, said two boys had drowned in a brick-kiln pit in Indore as heavy rains lashed the city on Monday night, while two women and three children were killed in rural areas. About 15,000 people living in low-lying areas had been moved to relief camps.

Monsoon flooding in India kills hundreds of people every year across the densely populated country.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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