Roof Collapse at Delhi Airport Kills One, as Heavy Rain Disrupts Indian Capital

REUTERS/Priyanshu Singh/File Photo

A view of a damaged portion of a canopy at Terminal 1 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport following heavy rainfall, in New Delhi, India, June 28, 2024.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Heavy rainfall and winds brought down a roof at the main airport in New Delhi on Friday, killing one person and shutting down a busy domestic terminal, while flooded streets and traffic snarls caused widespread disruption in the Indian capital.

About 148.5 millimeters (5.85 inches) of rain fell over three hours on the airport area in the early morning, more than the average for all of June, according to the national weather office.

Delhi’s main Safdarjung weather station recorded 228.1 mm (9 inches) of rainfall in the 24 hours ending 8:30 a.m. (0300 GMT), its highest 24-hour rainfall in June in 88 years.

The city of 20 million people had faced searing heatwaves earlier this month. Experts blame climate change for the extreme heat followed by heavy rain.

A wall at a building site in southwest Delhi collapsed in the downpour, with three laborers feared trapped in 12 feet (3.7 meters) of deep water and mud, a fire service spokesperson said.

At the airport, a portion of roof, the canopy, a column and its supporting beams at Terminal 1’s departure area collapsed, crushing four vehicles, airport authorities said in a statement.

The entire terminal complex was shut down and flight operations at the terminal were suspended indefinitely, they added.

Eight injured people were taken to hospital, Atul Garg, director of the Delhi Fire Service, said, adding rescue operations were now complete.

Images from ANI news agency, in which Reuters has a minority stake, showed a taxi crushed under a wrecked metal pillar at the entrance area of the terminal with puddles all around. A column and its supporting beams collapsed on other vehicles.

At least 26 flights were canceled and more than 180 were delayed, according to data from flight tracking platform Flightaware. Domestic carrier Spicejet SPJT.BO said it had canceled eight flights while IndiGo said all flights from the terminal have been canceled until midnight.

Terminal 1, one of three at the country’s biggest and busiest airport, was recently refurbished with its area more than tripled. From 2 p.m. (0830 GMT) flight arrivals and departures at Terminal 1 were diverted to the airport’s other two terminals, Aviation Minister Kinjarapu Rammohan Naidu said.

The ministry ordered an inquiry into the collapse, along with an inspection of the structural strength of airports across the country. It asked airlines to ensure the incident does not lead to a steep jump in airfares.

The terminal, which is mostly used by low-cost carriers IndiGo, operated by Interglobe Aviation INGL.NS, and SpiceJet, currently has a capacity to handle 40 million passengers annually.

GMR Airports Infrastructure GMRI.NS, which operates Delhi International Airport, is also its top shareholder with a 64% stake. Its shares closed down 2.7%.

Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport FRAG.DE, which owns a 10% stake in the airport, said it was in “close contact” with airport authorities.


Earlier in the day, parts of Delhi were flooded, including a tunnel opposite the venue that was the site of last September’s G20 summit. Some cars were trapped in thigh-deep water in chaotic scenes across the city.

Metro services were affected, people had to navigate through waterlogged roads and traffic snarls were reported. Electricity supply was switched off in some waterlogged and low-lying areas as a precautionary measure, one of Delhi’s power suppliers said.

The chaos prompted complaints on social media about the capital’s creaking infrastructure.

A federal government source said the home ministry would review Delhi’s preparedness for the monsoon with the local government, weather officials and other city authorities on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the country, the roof and windows of a parked car were damaged when part of a canopy of a new terminal building at Jabalpur airport in the central state of Madhya Pradesh caved in following heavy rain on Thursday.


India is among the world’s fastest-growing major aviation markets and domestic air travel reached a record 152 million passengers in 2023, according to government data. Domestic airlines carried 13.8 million passengers last month.

The country has built ports and expressways at the fastest pace ever over the past decade but the incidents at the airports in Delhi and Jabalpur re-ignited questions about shoddy work, loose regulation and a tearing hurry to complete projects, politicians and experts said.

Ahead of the April-May general election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated or laid the foundation stone of new terminal buildings at 15 airports. Both Delhi’s Terminal 1 and the terminal at Jabalpur were part of the projects.

Opposition parties said projects were inaugurated in a hurry before the election.

“Corruption and criminal negligence is responsible for the collapse of shoddy infrastructure falling like a deck of cards, in the past 10 years of Modi Govt,” Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the main opposition Congress party, said on X.

Aviation Minister Naidu defended the government, saying the roof collapse at Delhi’s airport was part of an old building that was opened in 2009 and not the one Modi inaugurated in March.

$1 = 83.4450 Indian rupees