monsoon, INDIA WEATHER.jpg
Commuters wade through a water-logged street after a spell of heavy monsoon rain in Amritsar, India, 11 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/RAMINDER PAL SINGH

More than 250 people in three Indian states have died since the monsoon season began in June, officials said Thursday, as the holy city of Varanasi was the latest to grapple with flooding.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated due to the rain to state-run relief shelters in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, with major rivers, including the Ganges, in spate.

Varanasi residents said this year's flooding was the worst since 1978 to hit the key Hindu pilgrimage site in Uttar Pradesh, which is one of India's oldest, holiest and most culturally rich cities.

Schools were closed, and disaster management personnel were distributing potable water, food and medicine on boats to residents trapped in waterlogged areas in the city where thousands of pilgrims usually flock on a daily basis to take a dip in the Ganges River.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday on Twitter that he was "deeply concerned" by the floods in Varanasi and promised aid.

Across Uttar Pradesh, more than 40 people have died in the rains, according to local media.

In the worst-hit state of Bihar, at least 127 people have died and more than 3 million are affected, disaster management officials said.

In Madhya Pradesh, 103 people have died, officials said, though the situation had improved with rains subsiding over the past few days.

India's monsoon season, which runs until September, is a lifeline for farmers, but also causes hundreds of deaths and massive destruction.

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