Torrential rains in Mumbai brought the bustling business capital to a halt on Friday with schools closures, transit disruptions, and train cancellations leaving commuters stranded amid massive flooding at least waist-high in parts of the city.
Through the heavy rains have kicked off the region’s summer monsoon season, Friday's huge rainfall was intense even for this time of year. Local authorities called the downpour “unprecedented” as the city was hit by 10 percent of its annual average rainfall in just 24 hours, instead of over the course of 10 days as usually expected in monsoon season.
Many areas of the city were impacted by flooding as submerged roads looked more like rivers. Authorities urged residents to avoid leaving their homes if possible, and schools and most offices remained closed or sparsely attended. Rainwater also entered many homes.
Authorities reported two people, one young child and one elderly person, died in central Mumbai due to electrocution during the flooding.
But the heavy rains aren't the first climate event to batter India this year, and devastating weather isn't just a coincidence. India's Minister of Science, Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan has firmly stated that the scorching heatwave that recently hit the country is a clear result of climate change.
“It’s not just another unusually hot summer − it is climate change,” said Vardhan. “Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heatwave and the certainty of another failed monsoon.”
In April and May, as temperatures soared up to 7 degrees Celsius above average, more than 2,200 people died in heat-related deaths, mostly in the worst-hit state of Andhra Pradesh. Following the heatwave, the start of monsoon season was delayed in bringing much-needed rains to India's farmlands.
Now, monsoon rains have hit harder than usual.
According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released last year, India can expect greater intensity and frequency of extreme weather events in coming years, with changing rainfall patterns, heatwaves, and erratic spurts of floods and drought. India's agricultural sector is expected to be hard hit, while there are also risks of increased food insecurity and public health threats.
India is considered among the countries of the world most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
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