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Heavy rains, landslides leave 18 dead in south India

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A bird perches on a tree as rain clouds cover the sky in Kochi, Kerala state, India, Saturday, Oct.16, 2021. The weather office has issued red alert in five districts in the state indicating extremely heavy rain fall. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

NEW DELHI – At least 18 people have died a day after torrential rains swept through 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 the heavy downpours triggered massive landslides, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.

The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Army deployed teams to help with rescue efforts as several are still feared to be 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 has since subsided. Over a 100 relief camps have been set up, he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he spoke to the chief minister and added that authorities were working to rescue those affected. “I pray for everyone's safety and well-being,” he said in a tweet.

In 2018, Kerala suffered catastrophic floods when heavy downpours amid the monsoon season killed 223 people and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.