Rescue operations were underway on Sunday after heavy rains lashed the state the day before, triggering flash floods and landslides, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.
The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Army deployed teams to help with rescue efforts in two of the worst-hit districts, Kottayam and Idukki, where a dozen people are still feared missing.
On Saturday, when the heavy rains began, television reports showed people wading through chest-deep waters to rescue passengers from a bus that was nearly submerged by the torrents flooding the roads.
Officials said the intense rainfall has subsided, but they fear the death toll could rise as relief and rescue operations continue.
Home Minister Amit Shah said the federal government was monitoring the situation in Kerala and would provide all possible support to the state. “Praying for everyone’s safety,” he said in a tweet.
In 2018, Kerala suffered catastrophic floods when heavy downpours amid the monsoon season killed 223 people and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.