Mumbai (The Hindu): As the city limped backed to normalcy after a day of torrential rains, most city roads wore a deserted look with the government declaring schools and colleges shut. At least five people were reported killed in different rain-related incidents overnight.
While the rains took a breather on Wednesday, with the sun coming out briefly in the afternoon, the Central Railway (CR) struggled to restore its services, with four trains on the Main line and three on the Harbour line declared inoperational. The Western Railway (WR) however, restored partial services late on Tuesday night, with some operational delays through Wednesday. Commuters and long-distance travellers were left stranded and ended up spending the night at stations.
Mumbai airport was also home to many stranded passengers on Tuesday night, with many arrivals preferring to wait inside as the traffic jam outside prevented their families from picking them up. According to Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) authorities, around 15,000 passengers arriving at Santacruz domestic airport’s the Terminal 1 chose to stay put till Wednesday morning. These passengers also refused to avail of free shuttle rides to important stations like Dadar and Andheri, as trains were offline.
With the waiting area full, passengers instead chose to rest on the inoperational conveyor belts. “Airport staff were deployed on the highway to ensure passing vehicles could be used to car-pool for passengers’ benefit,” an MIAL spokesperson said. The airport operator also offered discounts ranging from 30% to 50% on food and beverages inside the terminal.
Airport officials said inclement weather during the last 24 hours, including the suspension of arrivals and departures between 4.15 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the airport, impacted flight schedules, resulting in flights from Mumbai being delayed by up to 30 to 40 minutes.
Kurla resident Jitendra Gupta said his neighbour landed from Ahmedabad last evening, but was stuck inside the airport till 5 a.m. as traffic was a mess outside. “Thousands either sat on the floor or slept on the converyer belt. A few hundred extra chairs were provided by the authorities,” he said.
Mr. Gupta said normally, wheelchairs would be available within half-an-hour. “Yesterday, the airport was not prepared for the situation where each wheelchair was occupied by one occupant for many hours. Thus, there was a huge shortage of wheelchairs and some passengers who needed it had to struggle. This also led to arguments with airport staff.”
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