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Mumbai paralyzed after heaviest downpour in more than a decade

Children push a vehicle along a flooded road in Mumbai on July 2, 2019.

DHIRAJ SINGH/BLOOMBERG

By ANURAG KOTOKY AND PRATIK PARIJA | Bloomberg | Published: July 2, 2019

The heaviest downpour since 2005 inundated Mumbai, delaying trains and planes and spurring the city administration to declare a holiday.

Flights to Mumbai were delayed, diverted or canceled after a Boeing Co. 737 aircraft operated by SpiceJet Ltd. overshot the runway amid heavy rains. Precipitation over the past 24 hours was the second-heaviest on record, said K.S. Hosalikar, deputy director general at the India Meteorological Department's Mumbai center.

"It is very unsafe to go out," Mahesh Palawat, a vice president of meteorology and climate change at weather forecaster Skymet, said in a Twitter post. "Nothing is more important than your safety."

Disruptions due to rains, which also affected train services, are a regular occurrence in Mumbai, as authorities in the mega city of 18 million grapple with crumbling infrastructure. The city's travails highlight the need for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accelerate the $1.44 trillion his party pledged to spend on building roads, railways and other infrastructure in Asia's third-largest economy.

Twenty seven people were killed in the Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, due to rain-related disasters, Press Trust of India reported.

The seasonal rains also impacted financial markets, with state-run THDC Ltd. withdrawing plans to sell up to 15 billion rupees of 10-year bonds as the debt market was mostly shut, according to Company Secretary Rashmi Sharma. The company will seek bids again in 15 to 20 days, she said.

At least 54 flights were diverted since the SpiceJet incident late on Monday, a spokeswoman for the airport said, while 52 were canceled to and from India's second-busiest airport on Tuesday morning. Vistara, the local affiliate of Singapore Airlines Ltd., scrapped at least 10 flights and market leader IndiGo and SpiceJet warned of delays and diversions in Mumbai, home to the the nation's two largest stock exchanges and the central bank.

About 1,000 people were evacuated from an area in Mumbai as a river started to overflow, the city council's monsoon helpline said on Twitter. Mumbai's Santacruz weather station recorded 35 centimeters of rain in 24 hours that ended at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the heaviest since 2005, said Hosalikar. Rains will continue for the next 24 hours, he said.

Bloomberg's Jeanette Rodrigues, Nupur Acharya, Kartik Goyal and Ravil Shirodkar contributed to this report.

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