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Rescuers work at the site of a mudslide triggered by heavy monsoon rain in India's southern state of Kerala on Aug. 7, 2020.

SHIYAMIAnto Varghese/The Associated Press

A mudslide triggered by heavy monsoon rain and flooding killed at least 15 people and buried 20 homes of tea plantation workers in southern India on Friday, police said.

Twelve people have been rescued, said police officer Eldhose Madhai, adding that more than 50 people were unaccounted for in the region.

Kerala state’s top elected official, Pinarayi Vijayan, confirmed 15 deaths and said a 50-member rescue team has been sent to Rajamalai area in Idukki equipped with nighttime equipment for rescue efforts.

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The Press Trust of India news agency said police and fire service officers were already in the area.

Communication links and electricity lines were snapped and a bridge in the area was washed away.

The meteorological office issued a red alert with more rain expected in the region.

A Hindu temple in Ernakulam district on the bank of the Periyar River was almost submerged as water levels rose after sluice gates of a dam were opened.

The Muthirapuzha River also flooded low-lying areas of Munnar, also in Iddiki district.

Annual monsoon rains hit South Asian from June to September. The rains are crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but often cause extensive damage.

More than 550 people have died in India, Bangladesh and Nepal and over 9.6 million people have been displaced across South Asia since the flooding began in June, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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