The Mumbai Airport’s main runway failed to open at 2 p.m. on Wednesday as work on towing out a stranded private airlines aircraft continued amid heavy rains, low visibility and strong winds, officials said here.
An Air India technical team is assisting the SpiceJet authorities to retrieve the stuck plane and clear the runway for regular operations.
As a result, flight operations are continuing now on the secondary runway leading to huge delays, diversions, go-arounds and cancellations.
Unofficial sources indicate that the work on towing the aircraft may take several hours owing to inclement weather but airport authorities declined to comment.
Till morning, the figures of diversions stood at more than five dozen flights. Over 100 flights, including international ones, have been diverted to various other cities like Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
According to IMD figures, Mumbai suburbs recorded a whopping 304 mm rainfall till Wednesday morning, making it the third highest downpour in a single day since the great Mumbai floods when the city experienced 945 mm rains, followed by 316 mm on August 29 this year.
“We are experiencing heavy rainfall and bad tail winds at the airport. The flights are taking off and landing from the secondary runway. There are delays (of up to 30 minutes) in arrivals/departures because of the fluctuating weather,” a spokesperson said.
A 22-member Zimbabwe Under-19 team, which was supposed to reach Mumbai on Tuesday, has been stranded at Nagpur’s Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport since overnight.
Air India passengers stuck in Nagpur faced a harrowing time as the airline could not arrange for sufficient hotel rooms which were booked mostly by private airlines, said an official.
All flight operations on both runways were suspended for around 30 minutes on Tuesday evening, forcing diversion of four incoming flights and seven go-arounds due to poor visibility.
Later, around midnight, there was another suspension of operations after a SpiceJet Boeing aircraft skidded due to wet runway, hitting the operations on the main runway.
All through Wednesday, heavy rains continued to clobber Mumbai, the entire coastal Konkan region and parts of western and northern Maharashtra affecting normal life in various cities, towns and villages.
This comes three weeks after the Mumbai deluge of August 29 and 30 which paralysed the city and notched over a dozen deaths.
The city’s critical lifeline, the suburban trains and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus services, were also reported running with delays.
The IMD has forecast heavy and widespread rains over large parts of Maharashtra and surroundings till Saturday.
On Wednesday the warning was downgraded for Mumbai and surrounding areas, which can expect “only intermittent rains for next two days in few places”.
Till Wednesday morning, the IMD said Mumbai suburbs received 304 mm rains while the city experienced 210 mm rainfall.
As a precaution, Education Minister Vinod Tawde late on Tuesday announced closure of all schools and colleges in Mumbai metropolitan region.
Mumbai’s famed Dabbawalas also announced cancellation of their regular 200,000 tiffin box delivery services on Wednesday.
Till 7 a.m., the BMC Disaster Control said the western suburbs received 245 mm rains, eastern suburbs recorded 186 mm and south Mumbai notched 126 mm.
Several low-lying areas in central Mumbai like Parel and Dadar and some areas of the suburbs like Chembur, Kurla, Andheri, Malad, Borivali and Dahisar experienced water-logging, slowing down the morning office-bound traffic.
In the Konkan region, many towns and villages experienced water-logging in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Palghar districts, disrupting normal life.
In Nashik, Kolhapur and Pune districts, torrential rains resulted in lowlying areas getting flooded in the major cities and hampering normal movement of people and traffic.