Floods devastate South Asia
Up to 1200 people have been killed and 19 million displaced from their homes across Southern Asia as a result of the worst monsoon flooding in living memory. Large parts of India as well as two thirds of Bangladesh and areas of Nepal have been devastated.
With food and shelter in short supply and access roads impassable, there are fears of an outbreak of water- and mosquito-borne diseases. The Indian Army has been dropping food parcels and evacuating thousands of people across northern and north-eastern India. However, the monsoon season is not yet over and more torrential rain is complicating rescue and aid efforts.
Air-force helicopters dropped packets of dry food, candles, plastic sheets and matches to thousands taking refuge – many with their farm animals – on railway embankments and other high ground. Aid agencies said that greater efforts yet were needed to help an estimated 35 million people affected by the floods.
The agricultural regions of South Asia depend on the monsoon to nourish their crops, but thousands lose land, homes and lives every year as the region’s giant waterways burst their banks.
Flooding this year has been particularly severe because torrential rain over the past fortnight has combined with glacial snowmelt from the Himalayas to swell the waters of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers.
The worst-hit Indian regions are the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – two of the country’s most populous and poorest states – and the north-eastern state of Assam, near Burma and Bangladesh.