At least 46 people have died in the northern state of Uttarakhand, and 27 bodies have been found in the southern state of Kerala, according to officials from both states.
Uttarakhand began to receive heavy rains over the weekend, with rains continuing until Wednesday, causing lakes and rivers to overflow, a bridge to collapse and shutdown services.
Aerial images of the affected areas showed congested rivers and villages partially submerged by floodwaters.
“There are huge losses due to the floods (…) the crops have been destroyed,” said Reuters ANI partner Pushkar Singh Dhami, Chief Minister of State, after assessing the damage on Tuesday evening.
Of those dead, around 25 were from Nainital district, the worst-affected area, senior police official Ashok Kumar said on Tuesday evening. 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 amid a religious pilgrimage called the Chardham Yatra, during which Hindus from all over India make the journey to Uttarakhand.
As many as 100 pilgrims from the western state of Gujarat were visiting Uttarakhand when the floods came, according to Gujarat Disaster Management Minister Rajendra Trivedi.
Six of these pilgrims found themselves trapped in the upper part of Kedarnath, one of the main religious sites. A helicopter was dispatched to evacuate the pilgrims, but poor weather conditions hampered rescue efforts, Trivedi said on Tuesday. By Wednesday, water levels had dropped enough for pilgrims and residents to find safe shelter.
The pilgrimage has been temporarily suspended and will resume as soon as the rains have receded.
Two observatories in the Kumaun region of the state, where Nainital is located, recorded 340.8 millimeters (13.4 inches) of precipitation and 403.2 millimeters (15.8 inches) respectively, marking the highest precipitation over a 24-hour period never before recorded in the region, the Indian Meteorological Department said on Tuesday.
The Himalayan state is particularly prone to flooding. More than 200 people were reportedly killed in February after flash floods washed away a hydroelectric dam.
Meanwhile, torrential rains have hit Kerala since Friday, causing landslides and river overflows. Heavy rains are 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 officials are urging residents to stay indoors.
Reuters additional reports.