Dozens dead in Mumbai after ‘monstrous’ monsoon rains cause landslide

More than 30 people have died in the Indian city of Mumbai after an intense burst of rainfall caused a landslide and wall collapse, as changing monsoon patterns due to climate change lead to more extreme rains across India.

Heavy rainfall, described by meteorologists as “monstrous”, hammered down on India’s financial capital over the weekend causing mass devastation. In the eastern suburb of Chembur, the collapse of a wall in the night led to a landslide that enveloped homes as people were sleeping and killed at least 21, according to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

At least 10 people were also killed in the suburb of Vikhroli in the city’s north-east, when a landslide hit several homes, and three others in the city were killed in separate incidents.

The rain also inundated a water purification plant, leaving part of the city without drinking water. Mumbai residents were advised to boil water from the tap before consuming it.

With heavy rainfall predicted for the next five days, the city is bracing itself for further casualties.

The coastal city of Mumbai is always badly hit by the monsoon, and suffers flooding every year but it is feared that the changing patterns of the rains due to climate change will lead to even more extreme flooding and damage. In recent years, the monsoon has shifted towards long dry spells broken up by burst of extreme rainfall, which are more likely to flood drains and overwhelm infrastructure in the over-populated city.

The thunderstorm that caused the intense rainfall was described as “uncommon” for this time of year. On Sunday morning, some areas of Mumbai experienced over 20cm of rainfall in the space of just a few hours.

State environment minister Aadtiya Thackeray said: “We have been talking about climate change and it is happening.”

Current monsoon modelling systems also struggle to forecast such heavy downpours, meaning it is harder to give people prior warning of potential flooding or landslides. On Sunday, it was only at 1am that a warning was put out about extreme rains.

Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences to victims, and offered compensation to the families of those who had died in the landslides.

Mumbai, which is on the coast and is home to more than 12 million people, is also under threat from rising sea levels.

 

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