NEW DELHI - Widespread floods have killed more than 800 people and
displaced over a million in India, Nepal and Bangladesh,
with aid workers warning of severe food shortages and
waterborne diseases as rains continue to lash the affected areas.
Seasonal monsoon rains, a lifeline for farmers across South Asia,
typically caused the losses of lives and properties every year
between July and September, but flooding in this year is the worst in several years.
At least 115 people have died and more than 5.7 million are affected
in Bangladesh as floods submerged more than a third of the low-lying and
densely populated country.
"The water level has gradually dropped. The flood situation will improve
if it does not rain upstream any further," said Sazzad Hossain,
executive engineer of Bangladesh's Flood Forecasting and Warning Center.
Reaz Ahmed, the director general of Bangladesh's Disaster Management
Department, said there are rising concerns about food shortages
and the spread of disease.
"With the floodwaters receding, there is a possibility of an epidemic.
We fear the outbreak of waterborne diseases
if clean water is not ensured soon," Ahmed said.
With some rivers running above danger levels, 225 bridges have been damaged
in Bangladesh, disrupting food and medicine supplies to people displaced
from their homes, said aid workers.
In the Indian state of Assam bordering Bangladesh, at least 180 people
have been killed in the past few weeks. "With the floods washing away everything,
there is not even a trace of our small thatched hut," said Lakshmi Das,
a mother of three, living in Kaliabor, Assam.
"We do not even have a second pair of clothes to wear.
The government is not providing any aid."
Torrential rains have also hit the northeastern states
of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur,
killing at least 30 people.
Floodwaters of the Brahmaputra river were earlier in July
submerged the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary in Assam. The floods
have since killed more than 350 animals, including 24 endangered
onehorned rhinoceros, five elephants and a tiger.
"We are facing a wildlife disaster," Assam Forest Minister
Pramila Rani Brahma told Reuters.
Meanwhile, in the eastern state of Bihar, at least 253 people
lost their lives where incessant rains washed away crops,
destroyed roads and disrupted power supplies.
A senior official in Bihar's disaster management department,
Anirudh Kumar, said nearly half a million people have been provided with shelter.
In Nepal, 141 people were confirmed dead, while thousands of
survivors returned to their semi-destroyed homes.
"Their homes are in a state of total destruction," said Francis Markus
from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.