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Floods and landslides kill at least 150 in India and Nepal

<i>Mustafa Quraishi/AP</i><br/>Submerged cars at a flooded hotel near the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand
Mustafa Quraishi/AP
Submerged cars at a flooded hotel near the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand

By Jessie Yeung and Esha Mitra, CNN

Record-breaking rains and heavy flooding have killed at least 150 people in India and Nepal over the past few days, according to disaster management officials.

According to Nepal’s Home Ministry, 77 people died this week from floods and landslides, after heavy rainfall that began on Monday. Some 22 people were injured, and 26 are missing.

The flooding mainly took place in regions across Western Nepal, close to the neighboring northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

At least 46 people have died in Uttarakhand and 27 bodies were recovered in the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to officials from both states.

Both states began receiving heavy rainfall over the weekend, resulting in landslides, bridges and houses collapsing, and rivers overflowing. Aerial footage of the affected areas showed villages partially submerged by floodwaters.

“There is huge loss due to the floods … the crops have been destroyed,” Uttarakhand’s chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, told Reuters partner ANI after surveying the damage late on Tuesday.

“The locals are facing a lot of problems, the roads are waterlogged, bridges have been washed away.”

In Uttarakhand, Nainital district was the worst affected area with the most deaths, according to senior police official Ashok Kumar. At least 3,000 people had to be evacuated from a barge on the Sarda River, which overflowed on Monday, he said.

The flooding comes in the middle of a religious pilgrimage called the Chardham Yatra, during which Hindus from around India make the journey to Uttarakhand.

Up to 100 pilgrims from the western state of Gujarat were visiting Uttarakhand when the floods arrived, according to Gujarat’s disaster management minister Rajendra Trivedi.

Six of those pilgrims became trapped in the upper reaches of Kedarnath, one of the main religious sites. A helicopter was sent to evacuate the pilgrims, but poor weather conditions frustrated rescue efforts, Trivedi said on Tuesday. By Wednesday, water levels had receded enough for the pilgrims and residents to find safe shelter.

The pilgrimage has been temporarily suspended, and will resume once rainfall recedes.

Two observatories in the Kumaun region of the state, where Nainital is located, recorded 340.8 millimeters (13.4 inches) of rainfall and 403.2 millimeters (15.8 inches) respectively, marking the highest rainfall over a 24-hour period ever recorded in the region, the Indian Meteorological Department said Tuesday.

The Himalayan state is especially prone to flooding. More than 200 were feared killed in February after flash floods swept away a hydroelectric dam.

Meanwhile in Kerala, more than 200 families are currently in 26 evacuation camps across the state. With heavy rainfall forecast to continue in the coming days, state authorities are urging residents to stay indoors.

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Additional reporting by Reuters.

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