23 dead as monsoon rains hit India

India's annual monsoon rains have swept across the country about two weeks ahead of schedule, breaking a 108-year-old record and causing floods that have killed at least 23 people, officials said Monday. Widespread rainfall cooled northern India, with the region's high temperature for Monday pegged at 34 degrees Celsius - 5 degrees Celsius- below normal, Subhash Chander Bhan, the director of the India Meteorological Department, told The Associated Press. Bhan said he did not think the early monsoon was linked to climate change, noting that rains had hit the Indian capital as early as June 16 in 1998. The monsoon usually begins sweeping across the subcontinent in early June, but rarely reaches New Delhi and the rest of northern India before the beginning of July. But with an unusual weather system pulling moisture off the Bay of Bengal and dumping it on India, it is the first time since record keeping began 108 years ago "that monsoon rains have covered almost the entire country two weeks" before the start of July, Bhan said.