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Heavy rains paralyse Mumbai

Source: PTI
Last updated on: July 26, 2005 23:00 IST
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Heavy incessant rains on Tuesday set off floods and landslides claiming at least 54 lives in Raigad district of Maharashtra and battered normal life in Mumbai throwing rail, road and air traffic in the metropolis into disarray.

The rains have claimed 28 lives and 5000 people have been shifted to safer places, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said.

The state administration has sought assistance from the army, navy and air force for relief and rescue operations, he said.  

Weathermen in Mumbai said heavy to very heavy rains will continue for next 48 hours with gutsy wind at speeds of 45 kms to 60 kms per hour.

At least 100 people were feared to have died in sleep at Jui village of Raigad district when huge boulders razed 20-odd houses, District Superintendent of Police Rajkumar Vhatkar said.

Rescue operations at the village are yet to begin as the village was cut off from rest of the state, he said.

Thirty-four people were killed in a landslide at Kondiwate. Three bodies have been removed from the debris, while rescue operations were on to trace other victims believed to be crushed under boulders, Vhatkar said.

Landslides killed eight persons in Roha, three in Poladpur areas, while six persons were killed on Monday in landslides and drowning in the district, the official said. In Mahad, three persons were drowned when their car was washed away in the flood.

In Mumbai, the rains paralysed road, rail and air traffic, leading to suspension of long distance and suburban trains affecting millions of commuters returning home from offices. Even cell phone lines were badly hit.

The city airport remained closed since afternoon due to poor visibility and chances of flights resuming seemed remote as some crucial landing aids and instruments were affected.

The landing aids such as instrument landing system, visual omni-range and distance measuring equipment were damaged, an airport official said.

Even the radar at Juhu aerodrome was "down" and unless the situation improves flights may not resume, he said.

"Until the instruments are dried and we have a look at them on Wednesday, the flights cannot be resumed," he said.

He said even with crash tenders (fire engines) the areas could not be accessed.

All incoming domestic flights were diverted since afternoon to Goa, Nagpur, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai while some, which had not taken off, were asked to hold on at their respective destinations.

International flights, due later on Tuesday night, are also likely to be diverted.

The airport director Sudhir Kumar, when contacted, said the power at the Sahar international airport was switched off as a safety measure due to flooding of the control rooms where the panels are located.

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