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Rescue workers kill 26 in India mudslides

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Fresh rain and falling boulders have hampered rescue workers who have so far retrieved 26 bodies from the rubble of a mudslide that swept a railway construction site in northeastern India.

Rescue efforts are expected to continue for a few days in rugged hilly terrain with little hope of finding survivors among 37 people missing since Wednesday night.

Pankaj Kavidayal, a rescue officer, said 21 of the 26 confirmed dead were members of the Territorial Army.

Troops had provided safety to railway officials over a decades-old uprising seeking a separate homeland for ethnic and tribal groups in the area.

More than 250 soldiers, rescuers and police using bulldozers and other equipment were involved in the operation in Noney, a town near Imphal, the capital of Manipur state.

They were warned on Saturday about fresh mudslides in the region.

Thirteen soldiers and five civilians have been rescued from the rubble of the swept train station, staff housing and other infrastructure that was being built, Kavidayal said.

Continued rainfall over the past three weeks has wreaked havoc in northeastern India, affecting eight states and 45 million people, as well as neighboring Bangladesh.

In states such as Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim, an estimated 200 people have died in torrential rains and mudslides, while 42 people have died in Bangladesh since May 17.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

Scientists say climate change is a factor behind the erratic early rains that caused unprecedented flooding.

Monsoon rains in South Asia usually start in June, but since March this year, northeastern India and Bangladesh have been ravaged by torrential rains.

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