Forty-nine people have died after a landslide at a tea plantation in India – with fears at least 20 more are buried under debris.
Incessant rain caused a hillock at the tea plantation in Idukki district in Kerala, southern India, to come crashing down on a row of workers’ living quarters on Friday night.
At the time of the landslide, 78 people were living in about 30 rooms.
Most of the families were asleep when the landslide hit the plantation at Rajmala, in Munnar, overnight.
It was not until Saturday morning that authorities were made aware of the incident as communication lines were down due to heavy downpours, while a rescue operation was further delayed as the main bridge and road leading to the plantation had been swept away.
Sniffer dogs are being used to determine if there are any signs of life beneath the rubble as rescue efforts were hampered by further showers.
Heavy rainfall in Kerala has caused havoc across the state, with a red rain alert for Sunday and Monday issued by the Indian meteorological department.
It said the rain may reduce from Tuesday as rivers and streams in central parts of the state overflowed.
The local government has had to open the Pamba dam after water levels rose, threatening to damage the dam.
However, this has caused flooding of some low-lying regions, including people’s homes in Kottayam and Alappuzha where thousands of people have been moved to relief camps set up by the government.
Kerala was already reeling from the Air India Express crash on Friday evening which killed 18 people, including the pilot and co-pilot.
Initial reports suggest severe weather conditions could have been one of the main causes for the aircraft to skid off the runway and fall 35 feet into a gorge, splitting the plane in two.
Investigators have retrieved the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.
In 2018, Kerala experienced one of its worst floods after a dam was opened when heavy rain lashed the state for days, devastating cities, towns and villages.
Reservoirs were overflowing, forcing the local government to release the waters over fears the dams might give way.
All districts in Kerala were affected, with 683 people dying, a million people evacuated and the damage estimated at almost £4.5 billion.
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