By Malini Menon
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - At least 40 people were feared dead following a downpour that triggered flash floods and landslides in northern Indian Uttarakhand state over the weekend, a state official said.
Several more people were still missing, a spokesman at the state chief minister's office, Om Prakash Sati, said on Sunday, with remote Chamoli and Pithoragarh being the worst affected districts in the state.
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The state has so far confirmed 18 deaths, of whom 15 were from Pithoragarh. The official toll was expected to rise.
Thousands were feared stranded as landslides blocked hundreds of roads. The state authorities have asked people in low lying areas to evacuate as a precautionary measure, he said.
Relief operations are under way, but incessant rains have hampered efforts and raised fears of flooding as rivers were close to their danger levels, Sati said.
"There is no need to panic," Uttarakhand's chief minister Harish Rawat told reporters, adding, more teams from the state, central authorities, and other relief forces have all been kept on high alert as a precautionary measure.
Several damaged roads have also been repaired, Rawat said.
(Editing by Keith Weir)