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Flash floods in India leave 7 dead, 19 missing

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LUCKNOW, India >> Flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains have killed at least seven people in northern India, including three firefighters who were swept away as they helped rescue the stranded, an official said Saturday.

At least 19 other people — all construction workers — were missing and may have been washed away by the floods that hit the Himalayan foothills in Uttarakhand state, said district official R. Ramesh.

The men were working on a hydro-electric project when they disappeared, he said.

There has been incessant rain in the state since late Thursday and rivers are overflowing their banks. Scores of homes have been washed away and people have moved to buildings on safer ground. Soldiers are helping to evacuate people to relief camps that have opened in schools and government buildings.

Hundreds of pilgrims making an annual trek to Hindu shrines in the region have been stranded.  The state government has advised them not to continue with their pilgrimage till the rains ease up.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said roads and highways have been badly damaged and at least two bridges have been washed away. Army engineers had been called in to install temporary bridges across the Gangotri River, he said.

Heavy rainfall can be deadly in Himalayan hills which are more prone to landslides and flash floods during the monsoon. India’s monsoon season runs from June to September.

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