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Monsoon disasters claim dozens of lives in India, Nepal

Flash floods and landslides in northern India and Nepal have already claimed more lives than last year's monsoon season. In India, two packed tourist buses were swept away into a ravine by a sudden mudslide.

Landslides triggered by heavy rains in Nepal and northern India had claimed dozens of lives by late Sunday, government officials confirmed. Flash floods have also forced thousands from their homes.

In Nepal, authorities said they had found at least 49 bodies of people killed by monsoon-related causes. The Red Cross estimated that at least 53 people had died, with many remaining missing amidst the destruction.

"Search and rescue works are underway but the water levels have not declined yet," said Shankar Hari Acharya, the leader of Nepal's national emergency center.

Floods in Nepal (picture-alliance/dpa)

The floods have caused havoc in low-lying areas of Nepal

Buses swept away

In neighboring India, a landslide caused by the same torrential downpours swept two tour buses into a gorge as the cascading mud destroyed an entire stretch of highway. Seventeen bodies had been recovered from the disaster site by late Sunday, while rescue workers attempted to reach others trapped at the bottom of the ravine. 

 "Around 200 meters [656 feet] of national highway washed away with two buses and more than 50 are feared buried," said army spokesman Colonel Aman Anand.

People gathered at the disaster site in northern India

Rescue and salvage operations were watched by many bystanders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences for the victims of the disaster, saying he was "pained by the loss of lives."

Later on Sunday, a spokesman for the National Disaster Response Force said that "reports suggest that all the bodies [from the buses] have been recovered," but that emergency workers would do "a confirmatory search tomorrow [Monday] morning."

Heavy rains have been battering Nepal and northern India for days now, and the death toll from this year's monsoon season - which usually lasts from June until the end of August - has already exceeded that of 2016.

es/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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