LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Torrential rains triggered heavy floods and landslides that poured down hills in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, killing at least 18 people by Friday and destroying dozens of homes, officials said.
The worst-affected villages were in the remote mountainous districts of Pithoragarh and Chamoli. Many people were trapped under toppled houses and debris unleashed by the landslides, according to the state's top elected official, Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
"We are getting reports of 18 to 20 people killed, and this figure may go higher," Rawat said.
The Press Trust of India news agency quoting officials as saying at least 25 people were missing in seven villages in Pithoragarh, about 510 kilometers (320 miles) northeast of New Delhi.
Flood waters and mudslides have blocked roads at more than a dozen places, delaying the movement of rescue teams in the area. Helicopters were unable to fly rescue teams due to poor visibility in the area, said O.P. Singh, chief of the National Disaster Response Force.
Uttarakhand state has many Hindu temples which are popular destinations for pilgrims as well as tourists seeking to escape the summer heat further south. During the heavy rains, officials temporarily blocked pilgrimages to some temples as a safety precaution.
Uttarakhand was badly hit by monsoon flooding and landslides in 2013, when at least 1,000 people died in the state as it experienced its heaviest rains in nearly 80 years.
Monsoon season in India begins in June and ends in October.