MUMBAI: Dozens of flights were diverted from Mumbai after a SpiceJet plane overshot the runway and became stuck in the mud as heavy rain lashed India's financial capital and caused travel chaos Wednesday.
Schools and colleges also closed for the day as a precaution after severe monsoon rain late Tuesday and overnight led to fears of widespread flooding. The storms came three weeks after ten people were killed when torrential rain deluged Mumbai, flooding homes and railway lines and shutting down the city for two days.
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On Wednesday airport officials were trying to move the SpiceJet plane which skidded on landing at around 10:00 pm on Tuesday and forced the closure of the main runway. All 183 passengers were safely evacuated from the Varanasi to Mumbai flight after it missed the runway and "skidded off into the unpaved surface" due to wet conditions, the airline said in a statement.
"The main runway is out of use due to heavy rains. Only the secondary runway is operational and it can only handle a limited number of flights," Veena Chiplunkar, a spokeswoman for the international airport, told AFP.
Some 56 flights were diverted due to Tuesday night's thunder and lightning storms, she added. Several other flights had been cancelled while travellers were told to expect delays to departures while the main runway remained closed.
The plane was still stuck Wednesday morning. Officials had warned of flooding if heavy rain coincided with a high tide, expected around midday, but India's Meteorological Department said the worst had passed.
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Railway officials said trains were running normally but many residents decided not to take the risk, opting to work from home. The city's famed dabbawallahs, who take hundreds of thousands of hot lunches from commuters' homes to offices every day, cancelled their delivery service Wednesday.
Mumbai is regularly deluged by rain between June and September.
In 2005 around 950 millimetres (37 inches) fell on the city in just 24 hours, killing around 500 people.
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