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India landslide kills at least 45

The death toll from a series of landslides and floods reached 45 in India's northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand on Saturday.

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Villagers look at their collapsed homes caused by landslides following heavy rains in Rudyaprayag, India's northern Uttarakhand state, on September 14, 2012. At least 45 people in northern India died on Friday in landslides and flashfloods triggered by heavy overnight monsoon rains and about a dozen others are missing, a rescue official told AFP. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

The death toll from a series of landslides and floods reached 45 in India's northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand on Saturday, as rescuers pulled 17 more bodies from the debris.

Heavy downpours in the Rudraprayag and Bageshwar districts of the state led to most of the deaths in the early hours of Friday, reported Agence France-Presse.

"Seventeen bodies were found today from the affected areas of Rudraprayag," local disaster management minister Yashpal Arya said to AFP, adding that army personnel were helping local rescuers search for more bodies in four affected villages. "We fear that up to 18 more bodies could be still buried in the debris in Rudraprayag."

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The Himalayan hills are prone to deadly landslides and flash floods during the June to September monsoon season, according to PressTV. The four-month season accounts for 75 percent of India's annual rainfall, half of which occurs in the first two months. In August, at least 34 people were killed in the same area when it was hit by torrential rains that caused flash floods and landslides.

The heavy and constant rainfall in Uttarakhand started on Wednesday, noted AFP. Landslides also stranded 100 pilgrims traveling to an ancient Hindu temple atop the Garhwal Himalayan range.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120915/india-landslide-kills-at-least-45