More than 13-million stranded by floods in Asia

Nearly 13,5-million people have been marooned or displaced by floods in India and Bangladesh, officials said on Saturday.

The flooding in South Asia caused by the June-to-September monsoon has been described as the worst in decades, with more than 2 200 people killed by floods and rains in India since it started.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, the number of people killed by flooding topped 1 000 on Saturday, the government said.

Monsoon-swollen rivers have burst their banks, submerging thousands of villages across more than a third of the impoverished country, the Bangladesh flood centre said.

The floods have hit about 10 000 villages in India’s north-eastern Assam state, where three people died in landslides triggered by pounding rains, taking the death toll since July in the region to 77.

“The overall situation is still grim, with an estimated 11-million people displaced by floods since July,” state rehabilitation minister Bhumidhar Barman told AFP.

The Brahmaputra River was flowing above the danger mark in 17 places in the tea-and-mineral-rich state.

On Saturday, five people were hurt when the propellers of a relief helicopter caused a freak “storm-like situation” that knocked down 25 huts, another official said.

“So many people have lost their homes and these are mostly the poorest of the poor,” said Vinoy Ohdar, who heads anti-poverty agency ActionAid’s office in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Bihar is still recovering from flooding earlier in the monsoon season that affected 15-million people.

Bangladesh’s Agriculture Ministry said crops worth at least $290-million had been damaged in the flooding.

The government flood centre said the flood situation would improve in northern districts but the receding water would submerge more areas in the central and southern region.

The devastation in India also threatens an entire season’s crops in some areas, raising fears of food shortages.

Flood victims have also been suffering from diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases, with clean water in short supply.

Bangladesh has sought an initial $150-million from donor agencies with $60-million already pledged in immediate food and medical help.

In Nepal, landslides and floods have killed at least 185 people since the start of monsoon, the Home Ministry said.—AFP

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