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Torrential rains kill 18 in southern India

At least 18 people are confirmed dead 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 heavy downpours triggered massive landslides.

The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Army deployed teams to help with rescue efforts, with more people feared missing, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

On Saturday, when the heavy rains began, TV footages showed people wading through chest-deep waters to rescue passengers from a bus that was nearly submerged by torrents flooding the roads.

The state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged residents to exercise extreme caution, even though the intense rainfall had since eased. 

More than 100 relief camps had 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. 

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