At least 15 dead as wall collapses in monsoon-hit Mumbai

India’s monsoon season runs from June to September. (AP)
Updated 02 July 2019

At least 15 dead as wall collapses in monsoon-hit Mumbai

  • The tragedy came as the teeming coastal settlement of 20 million residents was lashed by heavy rains
  • Rescuers were sifting through the wreckage of the wall that collapsed in a slum area in Mumbai’s north

MUMBAI: At least 15 people were killed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai early Tuesday when a wall collapsed during torrential monsoon downpours.
Another 69 were injured when the structure came down around 2am (2030 GMT Monday) in a slum settlement, Tanaji Kamble, a disaster management spokesman for Mumbai’s local authority, told AFP.
The tragedy came as the teeming coastal settlement of 20 million residents was lashed by heavy rains for a second consecutive day, bringing the city to a virtual standstill.
Authorities declared Tuesday a public holiday and advised all residents to stay indoors. Schools and colleges were closed while flights were diverted from Mumbai’s main airport.
Large swathes of Mumbai received around 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain overnight into Tuesday morning, leaving low-lying parts submerged in water.
Train services on Mumbai’s colonial-era rail network, a lifeline for the city’s population, were reduced due to waterlogged tracks while motorists were seen pushing cars through flooded streets.
Rescuers were sifting through the wreckage of the wall that collapsed in a slum area in Mumbai’s north, in the hope of finding more survivors trapped under rubble.
“Rescue operations are underway and more details are awaited. Besides, a team of fire brigade and local police also reached the spot and took control of the situation,” a National Disaster Response Force official told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Mumbai’s streets regularly flood during the monsoon, which runs from June until September or October, and which provides India with most of its annual rainfall.
In 2005, 950 millimeters (37 inches) of rain fell on the coastal metropolis in just 24 hours, killing more than 500 people.
In August 2017, intense rainfall brought the commercial hub to a virtual standstill for two days and left at least 10 people dead.
Building collapses are common during the monsoon when dilapidated structures buckle under the weight of continuous rain.
Activists say Mumbai’s susceptibility to floods has worsened in recent years due to a construction boom that is trying to keep up with the city’s swelling population.
Much of Mumbai’s mangrove cover, which is extremely effective in helping to drain water, has been destroyed over the past decade to make way for glitzy high-rises.
According to various studies, anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of the city’s population live in slums, which become a sea of blue tarpaulin every monsoon as residents try to keep out the rain.


Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

Updated 31 min 53 sec ago

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

  • The case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

STOCKHOLM: Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain.
Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which accuses him of publishing secret documents related to his WikiLeaks work, has been facing potential charges in Sweden since 2010. The 48-year-old has denied all allegations against him.
Prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said the case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
She said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, “submitted a credible and reliable version of events.”
“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed,” Persson said. 
The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange has been battling potential charges in Sweden since August 2010, when an investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a visit to Stockholm. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest. That was granted two months later.
After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation.
While denying the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden, he sought asylum for protection from possible extradition to the US on charges.
Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status in April 2019. Assange was arrested by British police and sentenced in May to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012. He remains in prison after authorities ruled he was a flight risk and faces an extradition hearing next year to the US to face spying charges