At least 43 bodies have been recovered following the Friday's landslide in India's Idukki district. Some 78 people were believed to live in the area. Many are still missing.

Rescue workers search for missing people at a landslide site caused by heavy rains in Pettimudy, in Kerala state, on August 8, 2020.
Rescue workers search for missing people at a landslide site caused by heavy rains in Pettimudy, in Kerala state, on August 8, 2020. (AFP)

At least 43 bodies have been recovered after a massive landslide triggered by monsoon rains swept away dozens of tea estate workers in southwestern India.

The landslide in Idukki district, around 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Kerala state's capital Thiruvananthapuram, occurred on Friday but the ongoing search and rescue efforts have been hampered by torrential downpours.

The toll rose on Sunday afternoon, Idukki district's police chief, R. Karuppasamy, told AFP.

Twenty-six of the bodies were recovered on Friday night, a police official said earlier on Sunday. 

Local media reported that some 78 people were believed to live in the area, with many still missing.

READ MORE: Heavy monsoon triggers fatal mudslide in India

More rains ahead

"We have stopped the rescue operation for the day because of the rain... The operation will continue till the last body is recovered," Idduki district official H. Dineshan told Reuters.

The India Meteorological Department has issued alerts for heavy rainfall in several districts, including a red alert for Idduki.

Deadly monsoon 

Kerala has been hit by deadly floods during the annual monsoon.

At least 18 people died in a passenger jet crash in Kerala on Friday when an Air India Express jet overshot the runway while trying to land in a storm and plunged down a bank.

The monsoon across South Asia is critical to replenishing rivers and groundwater, but also causes widespread death and destruction.

More than 300 people have died in floods and landslides in eastern and northeastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal in recent weeks.

READ MORE: Floods, landslides leave scores dead across Nepal, India