26 dead in rain-related incidents; rainfall activity likely to increase in north, west coast

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New Delhi, Jul 18 (PTI) Twenty-five people died in rain-related incidents as a major thunderstorm pummelled Mumbai and a farmer was killed in a lightning strike in Mathura on Sunday, with the meteorological department predicting intense rainfall activity over north India from July 18-21 and over the west coast till July 23.

Several areas in the northern part of the country saw above-normal temperatures, with Srinagar recording its hottest July day in eight years at 35 degrees Celsius. Delhi saw scattered light to moderate rains, as did Uttar Pradesh, but sultry weather conditions persisted in Haryana and Punjab.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a yellow alert of heavy downpour in Madhya Pradesh. Moderate to severe thunderstorms with lightning are very likely at isolated places over Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and east Rajasthan during the next 24 hours, it said.

The IMD said rainfall activity is very likely to increase with widespread rainfall to isolated heavy to very heavy showers over the western Himalayan region (Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan and Muzaffarabad, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) and adjoining northwest India -- Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and north Madhya Pradesh -- from July 18 to 21.

Isolated extremely heavy rainfall is also very likely over Uttarakhand on July 18 and 19 and over northwestern parts of UP on July 19, it added.

Moderate to heavy rainfall at isolated places are also very likely over Delhi and Chandigarh on July 18 and 19. Western and southern India is also expected to receive heavy rains, the IMD said.

Widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rains are very likely to continue over the western coast and adjoining inland areas during the next 5-6 days, it added.

Isolated, extremely heavy falls are very likely over the Konkan region and Goa, central Maharashtra, and coastal and south interior Karnataka during July 18 to 19 and over Gujarat region on July 18, the IMD said.

In Mumbai, 17 people died as a compound wall crashed some houses located on a hillock after a landslide in Mahul. Seven hutment dwellers died as six shanties collapsed after a landslide in the Vikhroli suburb, and a 16-year-old boy died after a forest department compound wall collapsed in suburban Bhandup.

The city recorded over 250 mm of rain in just three hours (between midnight and 3 am), touching 305 mm by 7 am on Sunday, a meteorologist said. The IMD said Mumbai was placed under a red alert. Images from a doppler radar showed that the thunderstorm had a cloud top height of nearly 18 km (around 60,000 feet), it added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief and announced Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased. A sum of Rs 50,000 would be given to the injured. President Ram Nath Kovind also expressed grief over the loss of lives.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of each of the victims.

In MP, the IMD issued a yellow alert for isolated places in 11 districts, including Rewa and Damoh. It issued another yellow alert, predicting thunderstorm with lightning in Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur and five other divisions in the state.

Heavy rains pounded parts of south Gujarat as well, causing water-logging at places in Valsad, Vapi and Navsari. The IMD warned fishermen not to venture into the Arabian Sea till July 21.

Up north, parts of Delhi received light to moderate rains on Sunday as the maximum temperature settled at 36.4 degrees Celsius. Isolated places in west, south-west and south Delhi witnessed thunderstorm and light to moderate rain.

Sultry weather conditions persisted in most parts of Haryana and Punjab, with Chandigarh recording a maximum of 32.5 degrees Celsius.

In Haryana, Narnaul recorded a high of 40 degrees Celsius, Hisar 39 degrees Celsius, Bhiwani 37.1 degrees Celsius, Gurgaon 36.8 degrees Celsius, Rohtak 36 degrees Celsius, Ambala 32.8 degrees Celsius and Karnal 32.2 degrees Celsius.

In Punjab, Faridkot recorded 39.5 degrees Celsius, Amritsar 37.6 degrees Celsius, Ludhiana 35.2 degrees Celsius and Patiala 34 degrees Celsius.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Met predicted moderate to heavy rains over three days from Monday. Sunday was Srinagar city’s hottest day of the season so far and the hottest in the month of July in eight years, a weather official said.

Kupwara district, in north Kashmir, was hotter than Srinagar as the mercury there settled at 35.3 degrees Celsius, which was also the highest day temperature in eight years, the official said.

A weather warning of heavy rainfall was issued for most places of Jammu, mainly in the Pirpanjal Range and the plains of the division, from 19th to 21st July and many areas of Kashmir division.

The Met also warned of moderate to high risk of flash floods and the temporary disruption of surface traffic.

In Uttar Pradesh, light to moderate rain and thundershowers occurred at many places over the eastern part of the state and at a few places in the western part. Thunderstorm accompanied with lightning occurred at isolated places.

The 26-year-old farmer who died after being struck by lightning in a village in Mathura was working in the fields when he was caught in the thunderstorm.

In Uttarakhand, most of the rivers are in spate following incessant rains on Sunday, but the Ganga, Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Pindar, Nandakini, Tons, Saryu, Gori, Kali and the Ramganga are flowing close to the warning level. PTI TEAM IJT IJT

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