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India's monsoon starts withdrawing in delayed retreat

FILE PHOTO: A logo of India Meteorological Department is pictured at its headquarters in New Delh

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's monsoon rains started withdrawing from the northwest region from Wednesday, marking the most delayed retreat of the seasonal rainfall, the Indian Meteorological Department said on Wednesday.

The monsoon generally begins in June and starts to retreat by Sept. 1, but rains have continued beyond that date this year and triggered floods that have killed hundreds.

The previous record for the most delayed monsoon withdrawal was set in 1961, when the seasonal rainfall started retreating on Oct. 1, the weather office said.

Monsoon rains in India were 10% above average in 2019 and the highest in 25 years, the office said last week.

Monsoon rains are crucial to farm output and economic growth because the agricultural sector accounts for about 15% of India's $2.5 trillion economy.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Giles Elgood)