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India landslide death toll jumps to 45

(AFP) / 15 September 2012

The death toll from a series of landslides and floods reached 45 in northern India on Saturday as rescuers pulled 17 more bodies from the debris, a state government minister told AFP.

Most of the deaths occurred in the early hours of Friday after heavy downpours in Rudraprayag and Bageshwar districts of the scenic Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, local disaster management minister Yashpal Arya said.

“Seventeen bodies were found today from the affected areas of Rudraprayag,” Arya said, adding that army personnel were helping local rescuers hunting for more bodies in four affected villages.

“We fear that up to 18 more bodies could be still buried in the debris in Rudraprayag,” he said in the state capital Dehradun, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) from the district.

The latest figure took to 36 the number of people killed in Rudraprayag while nine others were found dead on Friday in Bageshwar, he said.

Uttarakhand has experienced heavy and constant rainfall since Wednesday.

The landslides also stranded around 100 pilgrims travelling to an ancient Hindu temple atop the Garhwal Himalayan range.

India has suffered from a variable monsoon season this year that has been too intense in some parts of the country and too feeble in others.

Excess rainfall in the northeast triggered destructive floods that displaced six million people, while much of the rest of the country sizzled without regular rainfall.

Nationwide, the monsoon has been 10 percent below its seasonal average, according to figures released by the India Meteorological Department last week.



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