At least 19 people were killed a day after torrential rains pounded villages and flooded roads in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
Officials said rescuers recovered the bodies in two of the worst-hit districts, Kottayam and Idukki, where heavy downpours triggered massive landslides, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian army deployed teams to help with rescue efforts as many people are still missing.
On Saturday, when the heavy rains began, television reports showed people wading through chest-deep waters to rescue passengers from a bus that was nearly submerged by the torrents flooding the roads.
The state chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, urged residents on Sunday to exercise extreme caution even though the intense rainfall had subsided. More than 100 relief camps were set up, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he spoke to the chief minister and added authorities were working to rescue those affected. “I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” he said in a tweet.
It is saddening that some people have lost their lives due to heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 17, 2021
A dozen people, some of them children, were missing in Idukki, media reports said.
“We are continuously monitoring the situation in parts of Kerala in the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding. The central government will provide all possible support to help people in need. National Disaster Response Force have already been sent to assist the rescue operations. Praying for everyone’s safety,” federal Home Minister Amit Shah said on Twitter.
The unseasonal rains – coming after the monsoon season – were caused by a low-pressure system over the adjoining Arabian Sea. The state’s main pilgrimage at the prominent Sabarimala shrine was postponed.
India’s weather office forecast light to moderate showers in the region over the next 24-48 hours.
In 2018, Kerala suffered catastrophic floods when heavy downpours during the monsoon season killed 223 people and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.