NEW DELHI — Catholic churches and institutions in flood-hit Mumbai opened their doors to accommodate thousands of people stranded in the city by heavy rain and flooded streets.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, and Syro-Malabar Bishop Thomas Elavanal of Kalyan, India, asked their parish priests Aug. 5 to help stranded and homeless people as heavy rain continued in western India, ucanews.com reported.
Thousands of train passengers were stranded in different areas of the city, Indian’s financial capital, and in other suburbs and towns of Maharashtra state as two days of continuous rain began to submerge rail tracks, forcing authorities to cancel or divert services.
“Several churches and other institutions in Mumbai and its surroundings have been partially submerged in the flood water following incessant rain in the past couple of days in the city,” said Father Nigel Barett, spokesperson for the Mumbai Archdiocese.
“People have been advised to move to safer places or to our churches and schools on higher ground,” he said.
The region’s three major rivers — Godavari, Krishna and Tapi — plus their 10 tributaries flooded after authorities released water from overflowing dams as the region has received from 6 inches to 8 inches of rain since Aug. 1, reports said.
Five people are reported to have been killed since the rain began. Another 35 people died during the monsoons that started in the region in July, according to media reports.
However, Mumbai authorities said there was “no reason to panic and most people remained indoors” Aug. 5 following widespread warnings of “very heavy” rain in the city.
Father Barret said the city had come to a standstill following the suspension of rail services, which he described as the “lifeline of Mumbai.”
“Only those who ventured out were stranded on local train station platforms and other public places following the suspension of rail services,” he said.
Roadblocks caused by debris washed into roadways caused additional disruptions, leading authorities to switch off electricity in many parts of the city.
“We have opened all our churches to accommodate flood-affected people,” said Father Emmanual Kadankavil, vicar general of the Kalyan Diocese.
The diocese published the names and contact numbers of the parish priests in local media and social media platforms “to enable stranded people to seek help,” Father Kadankavil told ucanews.com.
Parishioners provided food and took care of the immediate needs of those sheltered in the churches, the priest added.
from flooded train
Rescuers in India on Saturday safely evacuated all 700 passengers from a train after it got stuck in monsoon floodwaters between two stations near Mumbai, the country’s home minister said.
A statement by India’s disaster management office in Maharashtra state said the Mahalaxmi Express train got stuck due to flooding of the tracks.
Home Minister Amit Shah said on Twitter that all of the passengers had been rescued safely.
The National Disaster Response Force and the navy earlier launched a rescue operation after authorities warned passengers not to move. The first group of 150 passengers was rescued after the train had been stranded for nine hours in the area, which is about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Mumbai.
The train had departed from Mumbai around 8:15 p.m. Friday before it got stuck at 3 a.m. Saturday.