India's monsoon rains ease to 3% above average

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's monsoon rains were three percent above average in the week that ended on June 26, data from the weather office showed on Thursday, slowing down from the torrential downpours early in the season that caused fatal flooding in northern India.

In the first three weeks of the June to September season, the rains had already been 54 per cent above average as this year's monsoon drenched the whole country in record time, almost a month ahead of schedule.

Flash floods and landslides unleashed by the early monsoon have killed hundreds in the north and left thousands missing.

But the area is not key for any crops and the sugar cane in the nearby area was saved as flood waters subsided swiftly enough to shift stagnant water that could have caused damage.

In general, above average early rains help moisten the soil, enabling better preparation for seeds and early planting. The June to September monsoon is crucial for the 55 per cent of India's farmland without irrigation.