NEW DELHI, Oct 10 — Incessant rain lashed parts of northern India on Monday forcing schools to close in several cities as an unusually late rainy season prolonged havoc across the country, and killed 18 people over the past 24 hours.

The state-run Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said heavy rainfall was expected for the northwestern states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan until Tuesday.

The rainy season usually draws to a close in northwest India from mid-September, and it should be ending across the country by mid-October.

Some environmentalists suspect climate change is behind the unusually wet weather.

Parts of northwest India got 1293 per cent more rainfall than normal on Sunday, with Uttar Pradesh state receiving as much as 22.5 mm, the IMD said.

Eighteen people were killed in various accidents attributed to the rain over the past 24 hours in Uttar Pradesh, including drownings and electrocutions, authorities said.

Three people were killed when a building collapsed in the capital, New Delhi, as heavy rain drenched the city on Sunday, Reuters partner ANI reported, but it was not immediately clear if rain caused the collapse.

One benefit of the rain has been cleaner air.

Delhi’s air improved significantly because of the weekend downpours with the quality index at 36, in the “good” category, early on Monday, according to the U.S. Embassy’s air pollution monitor.

Incessant rain and floods have been a bane for big Indian cities in the past month, including the tech hub Bengaluru in southern India and the business district of Gurugram near New Delhi.

Neighbouring Pakistan has also been hit by unprecedented flooding and the government there blames on climate change for usually heavy rain and for accelerating the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

Heavy rain over the past five days has triggered landslides and flash floods across Nepal, stranding dozens of foreign hikers and climbers in several places, authorities there said.

October is usually the beginning of the clear, dry trekking season in Nepal. — Reuters