South Asia Floods Leave 445 Dead

July 29, 2002

Flooding fed by monsoon rains, has killed an estimated 445 people in South Asia, stranded or displaced some 12.5 million and made life more burdensome for many others along the region's rivers.

In the Bangladeshi village of Shaktipur, nearly 4,000 residents are using wooden boats and rafts made from banana trees to get around since flood waters severed them from the main road.

Dr. Shahidul Islam commutes by boat over flooded rice fields to a roadside spot where he leaves his motorcycle for the final leg to his medical practice in neighboring Shazadpur, some 65 miles northeast of the capital Dhaka.

"Boats are now the only available transport in our flooded village," said Islam, 54.

Tin and bamboo houses built atop mounds of earth, and half-submerged trees and electric poles dot the countryside in Shaktipur, now turned into a vast sea of gray by the overflowing Korotoa River.

Monsoon floods and mudslides have killed about 445 people and displaced or marooned millions of people in Bangladesh, Nepal and India.

The highest death toll has been in Nepal, where mudslides have swept away villages, killing 240. In India's Bihar state, 85 people have been killed and 5 million washed out of their homes or stranded. Another 30 have died in India's Assam state.

In Bangladesh, where floodwaters have covered a third of the low-lying delta country, at least half of the 90 victims have died from drowning, and the others from waterborne illnesses.

The flooding - deemed the worst in four years - has submerged or washed away thousands of tin, bamboo or straw houses, and damaged flood barriers, roads and bridges. Vast areas of cropland also have been inundated.

More flooding is expected as Bangladesh's 250 rivers continued to swell from fresh rain, the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in Dhaka said.

Floods during the monsoon season are annual events in South Asia.

Source:

AP

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