47 killed in Indian rains and landslides

Heavy monsoon rains and landslides swept the hilly areas of northern India over the weekend, killing at least 47 people, officials said today.

Twenty-four people died yesterday as falling boulders crushed their homes in three villages in Almorah district in Uttrakhand state, said Prashant Kumar Tamta, a state government spokesman.

Another 23 people were either swept away by floodwaters or died when homes collapsed in landslides in Pitthoragarh, Champawat and Uttarkashi regions of state on Saturday and yesterday, Mr Tamta told The Associated Press.

Rains continued to lash the region today, threatening dozens of villages near the Tehri Dam whose water level was nearing the danger level.

The area is 250 miles (400km) south-west of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

On Friday, a boat carrying mostly schoolchildren capsized in a flooded river near Faizabad, a town in Uttar Pradesh state, drowning 15 people, said Surendra Srivastava, a police spokesman.

The annual monsoon season from June to October brings rains which are vital to agriculture in India.

However, monsoon rains take a heavy human toll in South Asia every year.

In August, flash floods killed at least 175 people in the remote and mountainous Ladakh region of the Indian portion of Kashmir.

In neighbouring Pakistan, monsoon floods have killed more than 1,700 people and damaged or destroyed nearly 1.9 homes in the past six weeks.

India is experiencing an excessive rainfall this season after a drought last year. The rainfall recorded September 1-15 was 22% above the average for the period, according to the India Meteorological Department.

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