August 1, 2005

Torrential rains pound western India again

BOMBAY (Reuters) - Torrential rain again pounded India's
financial capital Bombay on Monday after severe floods
triggered by a record downpour last week killed nearly 1,000
people in and around the city.

Floods closed key roads and train services were disrupted
in the sprawling metropolis of more than 15 million people, but
there were no reports of new casualties or damage.

Dead bodies and animal carcasses were strewn around the
city due to last week's floods, raising fears of disease, and
clean water was scarce in parts as burst sewage pipes polluted

Financial markets and banks were open but schools were shut
as police urged people to stay off the roads.

Before a renewed downpour on Sunday, there were angry
weekend protests in the parts of the city where people have
been without electricity and water since flooding started last

"That we have weak infrastructure is known to all," said
Arvind Nandan, 36, a suburban commuter who went out in a cab
and took 45 minutes to complete what is normally a 10-minute

"But it has been pouring for more than 48 hours, and I
don't think we can blame the authorities right now," he added.

Weather officials worried the rain might spread to Gujarat
state to the north, already hit by floods last month that
killed more than 200 people and left hundreds of thousands

Heavy rains and strong winds are expected in and around
Bombay over the next 24 hours, weather officials said.

One official said nearly 21 cm of rain (8.3 inches) fell
over the past 24 hours at Santa Cruz, the north Bombay suburb
that recorded an unprecedented 94 cm last Tuesday.

"Reports of losses are still coming in. The revised
sector-wide losses are projected to be 20 billion rupees ($460
million)," Maharashtra state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh
told the Financial Express newspaper in an interview.

Officials said 924 people had died in Maharashtra, of which
Bombay is the capital, due to floods. More than 400 people have
died in the city due to landslides, drowning and electrocution
in flooded streets.

Nearly 70 people were killed in a northern suburb last
week, trapped under a huge mound of mud and rocks that
flattened dozens of hillside shanties. There were reports of a
landslide on Sunday in the city, but no casualties, police

In Raigarh district, 150 km (93 miles) south of Bombay,
about 200 people are dead or missing.

Flights were leaving Bombay airport, India's busiest, where
a plane skidded off the runway on Saturday and thousands were
stranded last week. Long-distance trains on some routes have
been canceled for a week, meaning thousands more are still
unable to get home. (Reporting by Rina Chandran and Rosemary
Arackaparambil in BOMBAY and Hari Ramachandran and Unni
Krishnan in NEW DELHI)