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Flood takes wedding guests

An overcrowded bus carrying wedding guests was swept away Thursday by a flooded stream in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir and about 70 people were missing, a state official said.

Rescuers were searching for the bus but had not been able to locate it in the gushing waters, said Shantmanu, who uses only one name.

The passengers were on their way to a wedding ceremony in a village in the Rajouri region, about 180 kilometres southwest of Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir.

The bus reportedly had a capacity of only 54 people. Shantmanu said rescue efforts were being hampered by heavy rain and strong currents.

The region's wedding season has been disrupted by heavy rains and the worst floods in 22 years, and many ceremonies have been postponed.

At least 14 people have died in the past two days, and authorities closed schools and colleges and stopped train services in the area on Thursday. Meteorologists said the heavy rains were likely to continue for another two days.

Soldiers and rescue workers used boats to move thousands of people to higher ground. At least 100 villages across the Kashmir valley were flooded by overflowing lakes and rivers, including the Jhelum river, which was up to 1.5 metres above its danger level, officials said.

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