Mumbai: Four college girls drowned in a raging waterfall in Navi Mumbai on Saturday as entire coastal Maharashtra experienced torrential rains and the region went on a high alert for the next 72 hours, officials said.
Three teenaged students — Arti Nair, Neha Dama and Shweta Nand, students of Second Year B.Com. at SIES College of Arts, Commerce and Science in Nerul, Navi Mumbai — who bunked lectures for an impromptu picnic to the treacherous Pandavakada Waterfalls, drowned here on Saturday morning.
The details of another victim, Neha Ashok Jain, who hailed from Chembur are not known.
According to Senior Inspector Pradeep Tidar of Kharghar Police Station, the bodies of two girls, Arti Naik and Neha Dama have been recovered and a massive search is on to trace the other two victims.
For the second consecutive weekend, heavy rain lashed Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Ratnagiri, hitting normal life and road traffic, though suburban trains and flights continued to function with some delays.
A huge 78-metre long and 1,478 tonne cargo ship from Hazira, Gujarat, went adrift owing to heavy rains and was washed on the rocky shores of Vangaon village in Palghar early on Saturday.
Vangaon police chief Rahul Patil and ship’s captain V.V. Nair said there are 13 crew members on board who are safe, have sufficient food and water on board and await help from the Surat-based owners, M/s. Eco Pronch Logistics Ltd.
The ship’s propellers and the hull have reportedly suffered damage as it hit the rocks in the Arabian Sea at 4 a.m., paralyzing the vessel.
In another incident, a fire due to suspected electrical short circuit broke out in Navrang Building in the congested Abdul Rehman Street in south Mumbai. Three women and a man who were trapped in the smoke were rescued safely.
However, at least three firemen — A.B. Pawar, C.S. Gupta and Anil Mhatre — suffered injuries due to suffocation and were hospitalised.
Mumbai, which has been experiencing virtually incessant rains since 10 days, witnessed a fresh spell of heavy downpour since midnight, with many low-lying areas in the city and suburbs, subways and arterial roads submerged under three-four feet of water, severely disrupting traffic.
Water-logging was reported from many areas in Nala Sopara, Vasai, Virar, Vikramgad (Palghar district), Mira Road, Bhayander, Thane City, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Titwala, Ulhasnagar (Thane), Roha, Pali, Mangaon, Karjat, Pen, Panvel (Raigad), and Mandangad, Chiplun, Dapoli (Ratnagiri).
In Mumbai, several areas in Borivali, Kandivali, Andheri, Santacruz, Khar, Bandra, Matunga, Parel, Dadar, Kings Circle, Sion, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar, AKurla, Bhandup, Mulund and other parts were flooded resulting in huge traffic snarls.
Subways in Dahisar, Kandivali, Malad, Andheri, Santacruz were flooded, stopping traffic movement in the east-west directions, and many vehicles and two-wheelers were stranded in the flood waters.
Suburban trains on both the Western Railway and Central Railway were running at reduced speeds owing to water-logging on the tracks in the suburbs, leading to delays of 20-30 minutes.
On Saturday afternoon, with combined effect of a 4.90 metre high tide in the Arabian Sea, continuing rains and water-logging, the railway tracks were flooded for around three hours on the Central Railway, with services suspended.
However, most flights were operating at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport with delays of around 30 minutes, according to officials.
In view of the continuing downpour, a majority of the schools and colleges in Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, and Ratnagiri have declared a precautionary holiday to avoid inconveniencing students, said School Education Minister Ashish Shelar.
In the past 24 hours, Mumbai city recorded 53.6 mm rain while Mumbai suburbs notched 133.1 mm rain and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy rain for the metropolis and coastal districts for the next 72 hours.
Till 6 p.m. on Saturday, the IMD said Mumbai city recorded 38 mm rains and the suburbs notched 81 mm.
The IMD added that Bhira and Roha in Raigad recorded the highest – 33 cms and 29 cms rainfall — with the hill station of Mahabaleshwar following closely as it was lashed by 28 cms of rain in the past 24 hours.
The BMC Disaster Control had issued warnings to people not to venture near the beaches as a very high tide of 4.90 metres will occur at 1.44 p.m. and keep away from all seafronts for the next two days as extremely heavy rains are forecast.
Temporary arrangements have been made in several schools and public institutions to shelter stranded commuters tonight in case they are unable to reach their homes.
Elsewhere, many parts of Maharashtra also received a good amount of rainfall, including the parched regions of Marathwada.
Most big and small rivers, dams, lakes, reservoirs, ponds and wells in many regions of Konkan, North Maharashtra, Western Maharashtra, Vidarbha were either overflowing or flooded, bringing cheers to the farmers.
Besides coastal Konkan, heavy rains were witnessed today in Nashik, Nandurbar, Washim, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Ahmednagar and Satara, hitting routine life and disrupting traffic as roads and low-lying areas were flooded.