India: At least 29 killed in monsoon-triggered landslide

Search and rescue efforts after Friday's landslide hampered by torrential downpours.

    At least 29 people were killed after a massive landslide, triggered by monsoon rains, swept away dozens of tea-estate workers in southwestern India, according to the police.

    The landslide in Idukki district, approximately 250km (155 miles) from Kerala state's capital Thiruvananthapuram, took place on Friday, but search and rescue efforts have been hampered by torrential downpours.

    "By yesterday evening, we had taken out 26 dead bodies. We have taken out three more today," a district police official told the AFP news agency on Sunday.

    Local media reported that some 78 people were believed to live in the area; many are still missing.

    Kerala has been hit by deadly floods during the annual monsoon.

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    At least 18 people died in a passenger jet crash in Kerala on Friday when an Air India Express jet overshot the runway while trying to land in a storm and plunged down a bank.

    The Indian Meteorological Department forecast heavy rains and sounded a red alert on Sunday for Idukki along with Wayanad and Mallapuram, two other Kerala districts.

    The monsoon across South Asia is critical to replenishing rivers and groundwater but also causes widespread death and destruction.

    Across the country, at least 780 people have died in incidents related to monsoons between the end of May and last Thursday, the Home Ministry said.

    The incidents included drowning, landslides, collapsing buildings, electrocutions, falling trees and lightning.

    More than 300 people have died in floods and landslides in eastern and northeastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal in recent weeks.

    SOURCE: News agencies