32 Dead as Worst Flooding in a Decade Hits Booming Mumbai

NEW DELHI — The heaviest monsoon rains in a decade have struck Mumbai and nearby areas, killing 32 since Monday and disrupting life in the financial capital of India.

After nearly 16 inches of rain fell last night in some areas, several parts of the city became inundated in waist deep water. Local train and bus services have been disrupted. Schools and colleges were closed, and nearly 50 flights were canceled from Mumbai airport, where a SpiceJet plane overshot the runway.

The rains led to the collapse of three walls, which caused most of the deaths. A municipal wall in a Mumbai slum killed 21 when it fell. Six died after another wall collapsed in Pune, and three died after one fell in Thane, a suburb of Mumbai.

It was the second heaviest rainfall in Mumbai in the last 45 years, Maharashtra’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, said in a tweet. In just three days, the city and its more than 20 million residents have endured more rain than they typically do during the entire month of June, he wrote.

The heaviest rainfall in Mumbai in the last 45 years occurred in 2005, when 37 inches of rain fell on the city in one day, killing almost 900 people.

In August 2017, more than 10 inches of rain fell in 12 hours, killing at least five.

Mumbai is a coastal city that regularly floods during the monsoon season, which lasts from June until September and delivers about 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall.

Building and wall collapses occur every monsoon season, when rainfall weakens the foundations of the poorly-built slum structures that house 40 to 50 percent of the city’s population.

But the city’s ability to absorb monsoon rains has been weakened by a construction boom that has destroyed much of its mangrove forest — trees that once helped drain the seasonal waters.

Most flooded areas are near the banks of the city’s Mithi River, an 11-mile seasonal river that belongs to the wetlands where the trees once lived. Rises in sea level during the monsoon have also contributed to the flooding.

The authorities have set up five pumping stations to drain the water, Mr. Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai. He also declared that families of the dead would receive about $7,140, or half a million rupees, in compensation.

The Indian Metrological Department has predicted heavy to very heavy rains in Maharashtra during the next two days, he said.

Reuters contributed reporting from Mumbai.