At least 49 killed, dozens missing in India after heavy rains: Officials

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At least 49 people were killed, nine of them in a temple collapse, and dozens more were feared missing after intense rains caused floods and landslides in India, officials said Monday.

In the worst-affected state of Himachal Pradesh, 41 people were killed in the past 24 hours, up from an earlier toll of 24, an official statement said. At least eight others have been killed since Friday in neighboring Uttarakhand state, officials said.

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Days of torrential downpours have washed away vehicles, demolished buildings and destroyed bridges in the northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Flooding and landslides are common and cause widespread devastation during India’s treacherous monsoon season, but experts say climate change is increasing their frequency and severity.

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, chief minister of the worst-affected state Himachal Pradesh, said at least 16 people had lost their lives in the past 24 hours, including nine in a Hindu temple collapse in state capital Shimla.

“The local administration is diligently working to clear the debris in order to rescue individuals who may still be trapped,” the chief minister said in a statement.

Sukhu appealed to residents to stay indoors and avoid going near rivers. Schools in the state had been shut, he added.

In neighboring Uttarakhand state, rescue teams raced to remove debris after people were feared buried when heavy rainfall triggered landslides.

At least eight people have been killed since Friday in the state, officials said.

The monsoon brings South Asia around 80 percent of its annual rainfall and is vital both for agriculture and the livelihoods of millions. But it also brings destruction every year in the form of landslides and floods.

Read more: Rescuers search for missing pilgrims after north India landslide

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