Mumbai, Sep 20: Slowly but certainly Mumbai is limping back to normalcy. There is a total chaos at the airport and all railway sttions though. The Mumbai Airport extended closure of all flight operations on the main runway till 2 pm as work on towing out a stranded private airlines aircraft continued amidst ongoing heavy rains, low visibility and strong winds, officials said here on Wednesday. According to IMD figures, Mumbai suburbs recorded a whopping 304 mm rainfall till this morning, making it the third highest downpour in a single day since the great Mumbai floods when the city experienced 945 mm rains, followed by 316 mm on August 29 this year. Since midnight far more than five dozen flights, many of them international, have been either diverted to various cities like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur as the main runway 9/27 was blocked by a SpiceJet aircraft which skidded off the runway and got stuck in soft mud late on Tuesday night. "We are experiencing heavy rainfall and bad tail winds at the airport. The flights are taking off and landing from the secondary runway. There are delays (of upto 30 minutes) in arrivals/departures because of the fluctuating weather," a spokesperson said.
An Air India technical team is assisting the SpiceJet authorities to retrieve the stuck plane and clear the runway for regular operations in the next few hours. A 22-member Zimbabwe Under-19 team which was supposed to reach Mumbai yesterday, has been stranded at Nagpur's Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport since last night. Air India passengers stuck in Nagpur faced a harrowing time as the airline could not arrange for sufficient hotel rooms which were booked mostly by other private airlines, said an official. Flight operations were suspended for around 30 minutes on Tuesday evening, forcing diversion of four incoming flights and seven go-arounds due to poor visibility. Later, around midnight there was another suspension of operations after a SpiceJet Boeing aircraft skidded off due to wet runway conditions, hitting the operations on the main runway. Heavy rains continued to lash Mumbai, entire coastal Konkan region and parts of western Maharashtra affecting normal life on Wednesday. This comes three weeks after the Mumbai deluge of August 29 and 30 which the city paralysed and notched over a dozen deaths. Flight operations at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMI) took a major hit owing to the downpour, poor visibility and strong winds since Tuesday evening. The city's critical lifeline, the suburban trains and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus services were also reported running with delays. The IMD has forecast heavy and widespread rains over large parts of Maharashtra and surroundings till Saturday. However, on Wednesday the warning was downgraded for Mumbai and surrounding areas, which can expect "only intermittent rains for next two days in few places." Till Wednesday morning, the IMD said Mumbai suburbs received 304 mm rains while the city experienced 210 mm rainfall. As a precautionary measure, Education Minister Vinod Tawde late on Tuesday announced closure of all schools and colleges in Mumbai metropolitan region for the day. Mumbai's famed Dabbawalas also announced cancellation of their regular 200,000 tiffin box delivery services on Wednesday to avoid stranding, said their spokesperson Subhash Talekar. Till 7 a.m., the BMC Disaster Control said the western suburbs received 245 mm rains, eastern suburbs recorded 186 mm and south Mumbai notched 126 mm. Several low-lying areas in central Mumbai like Parel, Dadar and some areas of the suburbs like Chembur, Kurla, Andheri, Malad, Borivali, Dahisar experienced water-logging, slowing down the morning office-bound traffic, but there was no dislocation on the roads and highways. In the Konkan region, many towns and villages experiences water-logging in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Palghar districts disrupting normal life.
News24Bureau with Agencies