Worst Monsoon Rains in 14 Years Swamp Mumbai, Killing at Least 35

Wading through the floodwaters.
Photo: AP

Monsoon season has already overwhelmed parts of India, including Mumbai. As of Tuesday, heavy rains have left some 35 people dead in the state of Maharashtra where the city of 18 million is located, according to the Times of India.

Though torrential rains are always expected during the monsoon season, which begins in June and ends in September, Tuesday’s were the worst Mumbai had seen in 14 years, per Reuters, with up to nearly 15 inches of rain falling in just 24 hours. Settlements saw their walls fall as the rains fell, killing at least 21 people who were sheltering there, reports the Times of India. About 1,000 stranded people have been rescued in the city so far, Reuters reports.

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India relies on these monsoon rains to help feed its winter crops, but tragedy is often coupled with them—especially for those who live in vulnerable homes that can’t withstand all that water. Last year, these annual floods killed more than 300 people in the southern state of Kerala.

The nearly 15 inches of rain that fell onto Mumbai Tuesday was the most in a single day since 2005, when 37 inches poured onto the city, reports CNN. Flights and trains have been canceled throughout the city, and the airport’s main runway isn’t expected to be operational until Thursday, per the Times of India. Heavy rain is expected to continue into the weekend in parts of the country, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

It’s too soon to say exactly what kind of a role climate change might have played here. But as Bob Henson, a meteorologist at the Weather Company, noted in an email to Earther, “a great deal of research has shown that the heaviest rainfall episodes are intensifying in many parts of the world, as more water evaporates from warmer oceans.”

Cities need to prepare. Maharashtra State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who oversees Mumbai, told Reuters new pumping stations would soon be operational to help remove the excess water from the city. That’s a fine place to start, but it won’t be enough in the long-run. Not for the people whose walls come tumbling down when the rains start.

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A waterlogged street in Mumbai, India, July 2.
Photo: AP
The site where the wall fell in Mumbai, killing 21 people.
Photo: AP
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This woman lost her family to the wall collapse.
Photo: AP
Vehicles struggled to make it through the deluge of water on the streets.
Photo: AP
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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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