07/28/2005, 00.00
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Record rain fall kills more than 400 people in India

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The death toll from three days of torrential rains in and around Mumbai, in India's western state of Maharashtra has topped 400 people and counting, police and civil protection officials said.

The rain has caused flooding, landslides, car accidents, collapsed hydro towers, short circuits and blackouts.

Although it is raining less in Mumbai proper, police is hard pressed to assess the situation in other districts of the state.

Helicopters and other means are being used to bring in food and other relief supplies. Residents have been asked to stay off the roads.

The Indian military, including the navy and army, are assisting in the rescue effort.

In just a 24 hour period ending early Wednesday, Mumbai saw more than 900 mm (37 inches) of rain, something that had not happened in almost a hundred years.

The Mumbai region normally braves heavy rainfall during the three-month monsoon season, but this time the rain was way too much even for the city. In 12 hours, it recorded more than half its average annual rainfall, throwing rail and road traffic out of gear. The water had no place to go because high tide conditions rendered storm-water drains ineffective.

The city, which is home to more than 15 million people and is the commercial and financial hub of India, came to a virtual halt. The city's commuter rail service, which ferries 4.5 million people a day, was shut down for much of the day due to waterlogged tracks.

Long-distance trains were stopped well outside the city. Air links were also suspended because of poor visibility and flooded runways.

Office workers who were caught in the downpour late Tuesday had to spend the night at their workplace.

According to government officials, at least 630 people have died across India this season.

Altogether, some 5.6 million people have been affected by monsoon rains and tens of thousands of homes have been wiped out in more than 16,000 villages.

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