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South Asia sees 'worst flooding in living memory'

Devastating floods leave millions homeless and many dead in India, Nepal & B'desh, HT correpondents report.

world Updated: Aug 05, 2007 03:12 IST

Such is the scale of devastation in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh it is being described as the “worst flooding in living memory”. News agency Agence France Presse says more than 1,400 people have died so far.

The death toll also includes a man who was killed in Bihar’s Darbhanga district as police opened fire on flood victims scrambling for relief.

Bihar is one of the worst affected states with 77 dead.

The flooding in South Asia is "being described as the worst flooding in living memory", said Unicef in a statement on its website on Friday. "The sheer size and scale of the flooding and the massive numbers of people affected pose an unprecedented challenge to the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance."

<b1>News agency Reuters said more than 250 people have died over the past 11 days after torrential monsoon rains that caused rivers to burst their banks in the region, including much of Bangladesh.

India

Bihar: Indian Air force helicopters were pressed into service to reach flooded areas on Saturday. "We have started dropping food packages in some areas," including Darbhanga, a district in Bihar, Manoj Srivastava, secretary of the disaster management committee in Bihar, said in a telephone interview.

The disaster management department said the floods have affected close to a crore people. The worst affected areas were Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Saharsa, East Champaran, Supaul, Darbhanga, Patna, Bhagalpur, West Champaran, Katihar, Madhubani, Samastipur, Sheohar, Nalanda, Khagaria, Gopalganj, Madhepura and Begusarai.

Most of Bihar’s major rivers were flowing close to or above the danger level , such as Burhi Gandak, Bagmati, Adhvara, Kosi, Mahananda and Gandak.

Uttar Pradesh: The Army was sent in on Saturday for relief and rescue operations in Gorakhpur district where the flood situation continued to be grim.

According to the state Revenue Department 2365 villages have been inundated in 20 districts and 103 persons have died over the last some days as waters from Ghaghra, Gandak, Rapti and Rohin rivers swept across district of eastern UP and the Terai region.

Assam: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi said on Saturday this was one of the worst floods seen in Assam. Twenty-three people have died so far and 26 districts flooded.

The state administration believes the floods have been caused by the release of excess water from the dam of the Kurishu hydro power project in Bhutan hills.

Gogoi said he would ask the Union government to take up with Bhutan the issue of excess water release from its dams.

Bangladesh

Sixteen more people, including six children, drowned overnight taking that country’s death toll to at least 81, an official at the government’s flood monitoring cell said.

"We have been virtually starving for several days but there seems to be no one to come to help us," said Majeda Begum. The floods have spread to 41 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts.

In the Shibalaya area of Manikganj, about 170 km (105 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka, reporters saw Muslim villagers offering prayers on boats as mosques had been flooded.

Parts of Dhaka were under water and more areas might flood in the next few days, officials said.

Nepal

In Nepal, a United Nations body said incessant rains over the last few weeks had triggered floods and landslides in both the west and east that had killed 84 people and affected 270,000, citing government statistics.

The army and rafting companies — used to shipping thrill-seeking tourists over rapids — had joined rescue operations, the UN said in a statement.

(With inputs from agencies)