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Image caption, A resident rescues a dog from debris after his home was destroyed by flash flooding in Kerala state

At least 19 people have been killed in floods in southern India after heavy rains caused rivers to overflow, cutting off towns and villages.

Several houses were washed away and people became trapped in the district of Kottayam in Kerala state.

Video from Kottayam showed bus passengers being rescued after their vehicle was inundated with floodwater.

Days of heavy rainfall in Kerala has caused deadly landslides and the Indian military has joined rescue efforts.

Helicopters have been used to fly in supplies and personnel to parts of Kottayam district, where people have been trapped under debris by the landslides, officials said on Sunday.

Sections of road have also been swept away and trees uprooted.

Fishing boats are being used to evacuate residents trapped in Kollam and other coastal towns.

Dozens of people have been reported missing and there are fears the death toll could rise further.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Sections of some roads were washed away

Local residents joined rescue teams on Sunday to help remove mud, rocks and fallen trees from affected areas as the search for survivors continued.

Refuge centres have been set up in various areas across the state.

It is not uncommon for heavy rainfall to cause flooding and landslides in Kerala, where wetlands and lakes that once acted as natural safeguards against floods have disappeared because of increasing urbanisation and construction.

In 2018, some 400 people died and more than one million others were displaced by the worst flooding in Kerala in a century.

An assessment carried out by the federal government that same year found that the state, which has 44 rivers flowing through it, was among the 10 most vulnerable to flooding.

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