IMAGE: RAIN IN HYDERABAD
Mahesh Kumar A  /  AP
These men used plastic bags for protection during heavy rain Thursday in Hyderabad, India.
updated 9/20/2007 10:41:56 AM ET 2007-09-20T14:41:56

Torrential rains and thunderstorms have killed at least 63 people in southern India, and flooded dozens of villages, officials said Thursday.

Worst hit was the state of Andhra Pradesh where 48 people died over the last four days, said Dharmana Prasad Rao, a state government minister. At least 19 were killed by lightning, while the rest died when buildings collapsed, or drowned, he said.

Overflowing rivers left some 50 villages under water, while authorities evacuated some 20,000 people from low-lying areas to relief camps.

In the neighboring state of Karnataka heavy rains killed 15 people, C.N. Seetharam, a senior government official told the Press Trust of India news agency. Dozens of people were evacuated in the state, some by helicopter, PTI reported.

Monsoon rains usually hit India from June to September. This year they have been particularly deadly, killing more than 2,200 people so far, most of them in northern India.

"We are monitoring the situation closely. District officials have been asked to remain on alert and take up evacuation wherever necessary," said Rao.

The regional cyclone warning center forecast more rain over the next two days.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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