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Death toll rises to 116 across India and Bangladesh amid flooding in south Asia



More than 110 people have died in India and Bangladesh as the countries continue to be hammered by lightning strikes, landslides and floods.

Excessive monsoon rain in the region has also left authorities struggling to reach millions of people stranded in high-density areas in what is believed to be the worst monsoon in decades in the region – and forecasters predict the weather will get worse in the coming days.

Flooding has inundated houses, roads and bridges and knocked down cell towers and power lines, isolating large areas entirely and forcing the evacuation of thousands.

Bangladesh’s Flood Forecast and Warning Center warned on Tuesday of dangerously high water levels for the transboundary Brahmaputra river, the ninth largest in the world, for the next five days. The region’s major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, have all been flowing above the danger mark for quite some time now.

Authorities in India’s northeastern Assam state have said 33 out of its 35 districts are impacted by the severe floods that have killed at least 73 people in the region so far. Overall in India and Bangladesh, 116 people are reported to have died.

Officials added that the floods have undone decades of infrastructural development in the mountainous region where connecting isolated villages to towns has always been an uphill task.

A team of over 400 rescuers were deployed in the state, said HPS Kandari, a commander with India’s National Disaster Response Force.

Mawsynram, one of the wettest regions in the world that lies in the neighbouring state of Meghalaya, recorded about 40 inches of rainfall in a single day, the worst downpour it witnessed since 1966.

Five people in one family were reported dead in a landslide on Monday, Conrad Sangma, the state’s chief minister, said on Twitter.

Approximately 84 per cent of Sylhet, one of the worst affected areas in the country, is now submerged, according to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre in Bangladesh.

Water levels drastically increased on Friday, submerging several houses entirely. Many people have been taking refuge on their roofs without any food or drinking water.

Authorities, however, are facing an uphill task in reaching the country’s internal areas as large parts of infrastructure are underwater and frequent landslides are still occurring, according to officials.

Schools have been converted into shelters for those affected and thousands have been rescued so far since the army was deployed on Friday.

“We have evacuated more than 300,000 people who were marooned,” Mosharraf Hossain, a government official in the Sylhet region said on Monday. “Many of them have lost their houses made of tin and bamboo.”

Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina surveyed many of the flooded areas by helicopter on Tuesday and urged regional leaders to speed up relief efforts at a meeting with them.

But millions more are still in need of help.

The UN children’s agency says about 4 million people — including 1.6 million children — have been cut off by the floods in the country’s northeast and that, without fresh drinking water, they could be in serious danger of waterborne diseases.

“Children need safe drinking water right now,” said Sheldon Yett, Unicef’s representative to Bangladesh. “Preventing deadly waterborne diseases is one of several critical concerns.”

“The situation is extremely grim, and the scale of the impact is only now becoming apparent as communications are being restored,” said Hossain I Adib, acting country director for WaterAid Bangladesh.

“Shelters are overwhelmed as many schools and other shelters where people would normally take refuge were inundated with water as well. There is a severe lack of clean water in the shelters that are in use, including health facilities and schools, so they can’t function even as the water recedes,” Mr Adib added.

“Other water and sanitation facilities have been destroyed and washed away as well, meaning that clean water will be contaminated as toilets and pit latrines overflow. Communities are now at high risk of disease outbreaks, on top of everything else.”

While highly dense areas in Bangladesh and northeastern India have always been prone to severe flooding this time of the year, flash floods arrived much earlier in April this year and with more severity, something experts largely attribute to climate change.



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