More than 350 dead in South Asia monsoon floods, millions affected

Published 20.07.2019 18:34
A woman holds an elderly following heavy monsoon rains at a flood affected area of Gaibandha District, in Northern Bangladesh, on July 19, 2019. (AFP Photo)
A woman holds an elderly following heavy monsoon rains at a flood affected area of Gaibandha District, in Northern Bangladesh, on July 19, 2019. (AFP Photo)

More than 350 people have now died as a result of flooding and landslides in South Asia brought on by heavy monsoon rains over the past few weeks as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in four countries.

So far, 184 deaths have been reported in India, 90 in Nepal, 41 in Pakistan and 37 in Bangladesh since the latest heavy rains began in early July.

Though the rains were easing and floodwaters receding on Saturday, the situation remained critical across vast swathes of the region which remained waterlogged.

At least 62 people have died in northeastern India's Assam state over the past week. Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.

Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. The authority said the bodies of 12 residents from different areas were recovered on Saturday.

"The death toll reached 92 on Friday as rescue workers found more bodies," a disaster management official in India's northeastern state of Bihar said. "The situation is still grim."

"A total of 114,721 people are currently in relief camps as their villages are inundated with water and roads submerged," the official said.

More than 6 million people in Bihar have been affected by the devastating floods.

A young woman gave birth to her first child on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam's flooded Gagalmari village. The newborn girl and her 20-year-old mother, Imrana Khatoon, were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.

Community health officer Parag Jyoti Das said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the baby were moved by boat to a hospital in the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon's village was flooded and closed.

"I would have felt happier if the baby's father was here," Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala, told The Associated Press.

More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.

Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.

"We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people," said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam's finance minister.

In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.

In at least two of Nepal's districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.

Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said 41 people had died in the flooding and rain-related incidents as of Thursday.

This includes 22 were from Pakistan-administered Kashmir who were swept away by flash floods on Monday.

South Asia's monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.

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