August 1, 2005

Bombay flooded again as rains hit western India

By Rina Chandran and Braden Reddall

BOMBAY (Reuters) - Heavy rain again flooded Bombay on
Monday after a record downpour last week triggered floods and
landslides that killed nearly 1,000 people in and around
India's financial capital.

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

"The speed of the relief operations has come down, but we
have deployed personnel and equipment and we are working round
the clock," said Suresh Kakine, director of relief for the
western state of Maharashtra, of which Bombay is the capital.

He said 600 medical teams had been dispatched around the
state to help treat the injured and cremate the dead.

Disease remains a serious threat as dead bodies and animal
carcasses are still strewn around the city due to last week's
floods, while clean water was scarce in parts as burst sewage
pipes polluted supplies.

Financial markets were open and operating normally, though
volumes were fairly thin as traders could not get to work,
while schools were shut as police urged people to stay off the

Smita Gaikwad, who works at a back-office services firm,
said she had to move in to her brother's 10th floor apartment
because her ground-floor flat was under two feet (0.6 meter) of

"The slums nearby are washed away," she said. "Dead
buffaloes are floating on water. We didn't have power for 72

"Everybody is in a state of numbness."

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

Film-makers in the city, home to India's prolific movie
industry, have started legal action against the state
government over its handling of the floods, newspapers


Weather officials believe the heavy rain could spread to
Gujarat state to the north, already hit by floods last month
that killed over 200 people and left hundreds of thousands

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

One official said nearly 21 cm (8.3 inches) of rain fell
between Sunday and Monday morning at Santacruz, the suburb that
recorded an unprecedented 94 cm last Tuesday.

In a newspaper interview, Maharashtra Chief Minister
Vilasrao Deshmukh estimated losses at 20 billion rupees ($460

But the most pronounced effect thus far has been the human
toll. Officials said 924 people had died in Maharashtra -- 425
in Bombay alone -- due to landslides, drowning and
electrocution in flooded streets.

More than 90 people were killed in a northern suburb last
week, with perhaps 10 more bodies still under a huge mound of
mud and rocks that flattened dozens of hillside shanties,
relief director Kakine said. In Raigarh district, 150 km (93
miles) south of Bombay, about 200 people are dead or missing.

A sharply reduced number of flights were leaving Bombay
airport, India's busiest, where a plane skidded off the runway
on Saturday. But long-distance trains on some routes were
canceled for a week.

Monsoon flooding kills hundreds of people every year in
India, a densely populated nation with hundreds of rivers.