Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

Monsoon floods, landslides ravage South Asia, at least 221 dead

More than one million people have been marooned in Nepal, Bangladesh and India as overflowing rivers wreak havoc.

Floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 221 people across South Asia over the past month, officials said on Friday.

More than one million people have been marooned in Nepal, Bangladesh and India and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes for higher ground.

Indian officials said floods and mudslides killed 16 more people in the northeast and eight people were killed in building collapses in Mumbai, raising the death toll in the country to 101. Nepal reported at least 117 deaths over the past month and Bangladesh reported three.

Eight people were killed in two partial building collapses in Mumbai on Thursday, the fire service control room said on Friday.

One of the buildings was dilapidated and most residents had vacated it for repair but some families stayed, the fire service said. Six people died there.

‘Worst floods’

Rains caused the Brahmaputra River, which flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh, to burst its banks in India’s Assam state late last month, inundating large swaths of the state, triggering mudslides and displacing about 3.6 million people, officials said.

Authorities rescued about 4,000 people trapped by the surging floodwaters in various parts of Assam, said MS Mannivanan, chief of the state Disaster Management Authority. About 36,000 people whose homes were destroyed or submerged have taken shelter in nearly 300 government-run relief camps, he said.

People and animals alike have been affected – in India’s Assam state, about 90 percent of the famous 430-square-kilometre (166-square-mile) Kaziranga National Park is under water, drowning several rhinos and wild boars.

“I can say that it’s one of the worst floods in the state and in the park in the recent times,” Assam’s Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya told the AFP news agency.

In the eastern state of Bihar, at least nine rivers swollen by heavy downpours in Nepal rose beyond their danger levels and inundated many villages.

One of them, the Gandak River, swept away the connecting roads of a newly built multimillion-dollar bridge in Bihar’s Gopalganj district, disrupting transportation in the area.

The Meteorological Centre in the state capital, Patna, forecast heavy rain over the next 48 hours.

Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs said 117 people have died in monsoon-related incidents, including landslides in mountainous areas and flooding in the southern plains. At least 47 people were reported missing and 126 have been injured in the past month, it said.

‘Can’t get a meal’

In Bangladesh, the Ministry of Disaster and Relief said at least three people have died and more than one million people have been marooned since floods hit the country late last month.

Officials said heavy rainfall and the onrush of river waters from upstream India were creating havoc in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 160 million people that is crisscrossed by 230 rivers.

Bangladesh’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre on Thursday said flooding could worsen at the beginning of next week because of growing devastation in the vast region along the Brahmaputra and Teesta rivers.

It said the situation would remain unstable over the next two weeks, causing further suffering for affected people.

“We’ve taken shelter beside a road and we’re out of work,” Morium Khatun, a day labourer, told The Associated Press news agency.

“Our children are with us and we can’t get a square meal. We don’t have anything good to eat. You cannot imagine how we are going through this,” she added.

Annual monsoon rains hit the region in June-September. The rains are crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but often cause extensive damage.

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