Multiple walls collapse in India monsoon rains, 27 killed

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Heavy monsoon rains in western India caused at least three walls to collapse onto huts and city shanties, killing at least 27 people and injuring dozens of others, officials said yesterday, as forecasters warned of more rain.

At least 18 people were killed and 66 others injured when a 10-metre wall demarcating an urban forest collapsed during the night in Mumbai, police officer Sunil Deshmukh said.

Rescue teams with sniffer dogs were searching the area afterward, and rescuers from the Indian navy also fanned out to help and rescue residents of the waterlogged city, India’s financial and entertainment capital.

Nine deaths were caused by two wall collapses elsewhere in Maharashtra state.

Six migrant construction workers were killed and five injured when a wall collapsed on their tin-roofed huts in Pune early yesterday, an officer in the city’s Police Control Room said.

Rescuers and others gather at the spot after heavy rainfall caused a wall to collapse onto shanties, in Mumbai, India. – AP

In Thane district, a school wall collapsed and fell onto huts, killing three people and injuring one, said Lakshman Pawar, a local civic official.

The monsoon season in India brings heavy rains from June to September that cause flooding and other damage. Building collapses are common as the rains weaken the foundations of poorly built structures. Last Saturday, another wall collapse in Pune killed 16 people living in a cluster of tin-roofed huts housing migrant workers and their families.

Monday’s rains also flooded roads in Mumbai and covered train tracks. According to Skymet, a private weather forecasting agency, the rainfall was the heaviest in a decade and second-highest in 44 years.

Rains subsided by midday yesterday but weather officials predicted more heavy precipitation in the next three days.

India’s Central Railway said in a tweet that “nature’s fury” made operating trains a “safety hazard” in some areas. Trains were running at partial service yesterday after thousands of passengers were stranded overnight.

Millions of passengers commute daily on a network of famed railways in Mumbai.

The city has witnessed incessant rainfall over the past few days and floodwaters have entered homes. A public holiday was declared for yesterday and the Maharashtra government said only emergency services would be functional.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, “People are advised to stay indoors unless there is any emergency.”

Weather officials said Mumbai received the highest rainfall in a decade over a two-day period since last Sunday. TV channels showed videos of submerged cars and water flowing through ground floors of some residential buildings.

A domestic flight skidded off the main runway at the Mumbai airport on Monday night, and flight operations were partially restored yesterday. At least 50 domestic and international flights were diverted and 50 other flights were cancelled.