At least 15 dead as wall collapses in monsoon-hit Mumbai

India’s monsoon season runs from June to September. (AP)
Updated 02 July 2019

At least 15 dead as wall collapses in monsoon-hit Mumbai

  • The tragedy came as the teeming coastal settlement of 20 million residents was lashed by heavy rains
  • Rescuers were sifting through the wreckage of the wall that collapsed in a slum area in Mumbai’s north

MUMBAI: At least 15 people were killed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai early Tuesday when a wall collapsed during torrential monsoon downpours.
Another 69 were injured when the structure came down around 2am (2030 GMT Monday) in a slum settlement, Tanaji Kamble, a disaster management spokesman for Mumbai’s local authority, told AFP.
The tragedy came as the teeming coastal settlement of 20 million residents was lashed by heavy rains for a second consecutive day, bringing the city to a virtual standstill.
Authorities declared Tuesday a public holiday and advised all residents to stay indoors. Schools and colleges were closed while flights were diverted from Mumbai’s main airport.
Large swathes of Mumbai received around 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain overnight into Tuesday morning, leaving low-lying parts submerged in water.
Train services on Mumbai’s colonial-era rail network, a lifeline for the city’s population, were reduced due to waterlogged tracks while motorists were seen pushing cars through flooded streets.
Rescuers were sifting through the wreckage of the wall that collapsed in a slum area in Mumbai’s north, in the hope of finding more survivors trapped under rubble.
“Rescue operations are underway and more details are awaited. Besides, a team of fire brigade and local police also reached the spot and took control of the situation,” a National Disaster Response Force official told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Mumbai’s streets regularly flood during the monsoon, which runs from June until September or October, and which provides India with most of its annual rainfall.
In 2005, 950 millimeters (37 inches) of rain fell on the coastal metropolis in just 24 hours, killing more than 500 people.
In August 2017, intense rainfall brought the commercial hub to a virtual standstill for two days and left at least 10 people dead.
Building collapses are common during the monsoon when dilapidated structures buckle under the weight of continuous rain.
Activists say Mumbai’s susceptibility to floods has worsened in recent years due to a construction boom that is trying to keep up with the city’s swelling population.
Much of Mumbai’s mangrove cover, which is extremely effective in helping to drain water, has been destroyed over the past decade to make way for glitzy high-rises.
According to various studies, anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of the city’s population live in slums, which become a sea of blue tarpaulin every monsoon as residents try to keep out the rain.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.