Heavy early monsoon rains have killed at least 81 people in India's western Gujarat state, bringing misery to thousands of people uprooted from their flooded homes.

Ridhi Butt, a National Disaster Response Force official, says nearly 9,000 people have been evacuated to higher ground in the worst-hit Amreli, Rajkot and Bhavnagar districts of Gujarat, which had been suffering from a drought before the rains hit.

Butt said Friday that most of the deaths occurred when people were swept away by flood waters and mudslides, or buried in collapsed houses.

The monsoon rains arrived days ahead of schedule in western and northern parts of India, raising hopes the annual rains may not be as scanty as predicted earlier by the India Meteorological Department.