updated 8/21/2008 12:00:39 PM ET 2008-08-21T16:00:39

Monsoon rains pummeled northern India, bringing dozens of buildings crashing down and killing 74 people, police said Thursday.

The deaths were reported in Uttar Pradesh state, one of India's poorest, bringing this monsoon season's death toll to more than 300 people across India.

Monsoon season, which lasts from June to September in India, brings rain vital for the country's farmers but also massive destruction. Floods, mudslides, house collapses and lightning strikes kill hundreds every year.

One of the worst hit places was the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, where 11.5 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

"The dead included women and children, as most of the fatalities occurred due to the incidents of houses collapsing," said Surendra Srivastava, the state police spokesman.

Nine members of a single family died in Varanasi when the deluge caused the walls of a house to collapse, Srivastava said. Four others were also killed in the city, 165 miles southeast of Lucknow, the state capital.

In the town of Sitapur, 50 miles southwest of Lucknow, 24 people were killed when 12 buildings collapsed, said Mritunjay Rai, a government official. Those killed included two girls who were buried alive when their mud house collapsed on them, Rai said.

Schools in Varanasi and the nearby town of Barabanki were closed due the rains and the Ganges River was overflowing in some points, said Atul Kumar Gupta, a senior state official.

Gupta said families would get $2,350 in compensation for victims of the flooding.

In the neighboring state of Bihar, air force helicopters were called in to airlift supplies to thousands of people who were stranded when a river burst its banks, said Disaster Management Secretary Pratayaya Amrit.

Sixty soldiers were being sent to the area to help with relief, he said. There were no reports of casualties there.

More warnings
Meteorologists warned of more flooding in the days to come.

On Wednesday, floods left nearly 80,000 people stranded and dependent on emergency aid for food and water in India's remote northeast.

Authorities used motorboats to rush aid to flood victims in more than 70 inundated villages on Majuli, one of Asia's largest freshwater islands located in the Brahmaputra River, said A. Baruah, a local government official in the state of Assam.

There have been no deaths reported so far on the island, Baruah said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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