At least 46 people have died in the northern state of Uttarakhand and 27 bodies were recovered in the southern state of Kerala, according to officials from both states.
Uttarakhand began receiving heavy rainfall over the weekend, with rain continuing until Wednesday, causing lakes and rivers to overflow, a bridge to collapse, and services to shut down.
Aerial footage of the affected areas showed engorged rivers and villages partially submerged by floodwaters.
“There is huge loss due to the floods … the crops have been destroyed,” the state’s chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami told Reuters partner ANI after surveying the damage late on Tuesday.
“The locals are facing a lot of problems, the roads are waterlogged, bridges have been washed away.”
Of those dead, about 25 were from Nainital district, the worst affected area, senior police official Ashok Kumar told local news late Tuesday. At least 3,000 people had to be evacuated from a barge on the Sarda River, which overflowed on Monday, he said.
The flooding comes in the middle of a religious pilgrimage called the Chardham Yatra, during which Hindus from around India make the journey to Uttarakhand.
Up to 100 pilgrims from the western state of Gujarat were visiting Uttarakhand when the floods arrived, according to Gujarat’s disaster management minister Rajendra Trivedi.
Six of those pilgrims became trapped in the upper reaches of Kedarnath, one of the main religious sites. A helicopter was sent to evacuate the pilgrims, but poor weather conditions frustrated rescue efforts, Trivedi said on Tuesday. By Wednesday, water levels had receded enough for the pilgrims and residents to find safe shelter.
The pilgrimage has been temporarily suspended, and will resume once rainfall recedes.
Two observatories in the Kumaun region of the state, where Nainital is located, recorded 340.8 millimeters (13.4 inches) of rainfall and 403.2 millimeters (15.8 inches) respectively, marking the highest rainfall over a 24-hour period ever recorded in the region, the Indian Meteorological Department said Tuesday.
The Himalayan state is especially prone to flooding. More than 200 were feared killed in February after flash floods swept away a hydroelectric dam.
Meanwhile, torrential rain has battered Kerala since Friday, causing landslides and rivers to overflow. Heavy rain is expected to continue through Thursday, according to the state’s information department.
More than 200 families are currently in 26 evacuation camps across the state, and in landslide-prone areas, state authorities are urging residents to stay indoors.