Mumbai, July 31: After a few hours of rain today, Bhuvaneshwari K. began packing her furniture, TV and books, ready to shift them to a neighbour’s seventh-floor apartment.
Once deluged, Mumbai has become twice shy ' so what if Sunday’s rainfall was a tenth of Tuesday’s'
The horrors of July 26-28 have so traumatised the city that it pressed the panic button this morning as heavy rain flooded low-lying areas, halted trains and shut the airport.
TV channels began showing pictures of water-logged localities. The police commissioner issued a stay-at-home warning through SMS to the city where offices had filled up the day after the 2003 twin blasts.
Soon the rumours came pelting down. After triggering a stampede that killed 18 people three days ago, fresh talk of dam bursts swirled about.
Throughout the day, Mumbai asked: will it happen again'
Bhuvaneshwari wasn’t taking any chances. The 29-year-old ' who had finished cleaning up her rain-ravaged ground-floor flat, brought the furniture, computer and books down from the seventh floor and rearranged them on Sunday morning ' began packing again as soon as she learnt of the fresh alert.
“Will it happen again'” the resident of Kalwa, Thane, asked. “Has the Barvi dam overflowed' Is it true the alert will be valid till August 15'”
No one knew. And no one wanted to bet against it.
Least of all the weather bureau, which predicted “heavy to very heavy” rain for the next 48 hours. The chief minister asked schools in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad to stay closed on Monday.
Central and Western Railway reported water-logging at some stations and stopped services for a while.
Yet, the Santa Cruz and Colaba observatories reported only 60 mm and 66 mm of rain till 8 am, and another 40 mm in the next three hours. A far cry from the 944.2 mm that marooned Mumbai on July 26.
The Centre urged airlines to cut the number of flights to Mumbai in the next couple of days keeping in mind the weather forecast.
Poor visibility shut the airport from 5 am to 11 am today, wrecking domestic schedules. Of the 16 flights that took off for Mumbai this morning, only five managed to land.
Several Mumbai-bound flights from Calcutta were cancelled while two morning flights, of Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines, were diverted to Pune and Bangalore.
A later Jet flight was cancelled and another delayed by several hours in the evening. Two Indian Airlines evening flights were combined into a single one that left for Mumbai at 7.40 pm.
Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced a committee to monitor the flood situation in the state as the death toll climbed to 891 from Saturday’s 853.
According to psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, Mumbai’s anxiety is normal immediately following the calamity that killed about 270 of its people.
“After a disaster, people are hyper-sensitive and tend to over-react. The shooting of an innocent Brazilian by London police, the killing of three children in Kupwara by the army ' they are examples of this,” he said.
A London-bound Air-India flight from Mumbai, with 315 on board, made a safe emergency landing at Delhi tonight following a technical snag.