Nearly 600 dead in S. Asia floods

A health official collecting blood samples from boys in a flooded village in Morigaon district in the north-eastern state of Assam, India, on Friday. The latest floods and landslides in the subcontinent began in the second week of the month as the an
A health official collecting blood samples from boys in a flooded village in Morigaon district in the north-eastern state of Assam, India, on Friday. The latest floods and landslides in the subcontinent began in the second week of the month as the annual monsoon strengthened its grip over the northern and eastern parts of the region.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI • Nearly 600 people have died and millions have been affected by monsoon floods in South Asia, officials said as relief and rescue operations continued.

The latest floods and landslides in the subcontinent began in the second week of the month as the annual monsoon strengthened its grip over the northern and eastern parts of the region.

The Indian authorities sought military help in two districts of northern Uttar Pradesh state after fresh heavy rains left hundreds of villages marooned.

As many as 33 out of 75 districts in the most populated Indian state are reeling from floods that have left 55 people dead. "We have sought the army's help to reach out to the affected people," Mr T. P. Gupta, a senior official from the state's disaster management authority, told AFP yesterday.

Nearly 100,000 people have moved to shelters, with the authorities estimating that another two million have been hit by the deluge.

In India's worst-hit Bihar state, the death toll reached 153, following one of the deadliest floods in the region since 2008.

Nearly 400,000 people have sought shelter in relief camps and an estimated 10 million have been affected by the flood.

Mr Anirudh Kumar, a top disaster management agency official in the state, said over 5,000 emergency workers, including 2,000 soldiers, were supporting relief and rescue operations. "Nearly 1,300 shelters have been opened to accommodate the affected people," he told AFP.

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh border Nepal, which was hit by floods at the weekend and where the death toll is 123. At least 20 per cent of the 28 million population is affected in what the United Nations has called the worst flood to hit the country in 15 years.

At least 100 people have died in neighbouring Bangladesh while close to six million were affected by the floods.

The government has opened nearly 1,000 shelters in schools and colleges where nearly 300,000 people have taken shelter, the country's disaster management department said.

But there are still pockets of the country where help has yet to reach.

Mr Poresh Mondol, a farmer in the northern district of Kurigram, one of the worst-hit areas, has been camping with his family on the roof of his tin-shed house, most of which was submerged.

"No one has come to us with any help. We are left with the last fistful of dry goods," he told AFP by phone.

The International Red Cross called it a humanitarian crisis and said urgent action was needed.

"Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters," said Mr Martin Faller, deputy regional director for Asia-Pacific, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'Nearly 600 dead in S. Asia floods'. Print Edition | Subscribe