Death toll rises in India's monsoon season

Another 21 people died from lightning and house collapses in northern India, an official said on Saturday, taking the nationwide death toll to at least 328 since the monsoon season began two months ago.

The new casualties were reported in northern Uttar Pradesh state, one of the worst hit by the heavy rains.

“The rains have so far killed 148 people [in Uttar Pradesh] with 21 people dying in house collapses and from lightning in the past 48 hours,” police spokesperson Manish Awasthi told the media in state capital Lucknow.

Rains lashed most parts of the state, triggering landslides and house cave-ins.

Seven people, including a three-month-old baby, died when two dilapidated houses collapsed on the outskirts of Lucknow.

Several rivers in the state were overflowing, forcing people from their houses.

The Ganges River, considered sacred by Hindus, has touched the danger mark.

“Tourists and pilgrims have been asked not to go near the river,” government official Ramesh Singh said.

The monsoon rains that sweep India from June to September bring misery to millions of people displaced annually by flooding, but are crucial for the country’s farm-dependent economy.

Earlier this month, heavy rains lashed Mumbai, the country’s financial hub, leaving parts flooded for two days.

Most deaths this year have been caused by lightning, landslides and house collapses while some people have drowned or been electrocuted by fallen power lines.—AFP

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