Monsoons hit South Asia, 180 dead, 400,000 homeless
Monsoon rains have killed more than 180 people and forced about 400,000 from their homes in eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh and created a food shortage in some areas, officials said on Thursday.
On top of those drowned or killed by mudslides or lightning strikes since the monsoon hit in early June, about 400 people are missing and feared dead after an overloaded ferry capsized in a swollen Bangladeshi river.
In Assam state in northeastern India, rivers overflowed their banks overnight and forced 100,000 people from their homes, bringing the total number of homeless to about 300,000.
In the north of neighbouring West Bengal state, floods have displaced 80,000 people since Tuesday and authorities were evacuating marooned people by boat and giving them food and plastic sheets for shelter.
At least 10,000 are homeless in Bangladesh, where large areas have been flooded, and 5,500 people in Nepal have lost their homes over the past 15 days in floods and mudslides, officials said.
"We are providing them shelter in makeshift accommodation," Lekhnath Pokharel, a Nepalese Home (interior) Ministry official, told Reuters in the capital, Kathmandu.
Flooding has killed at least 70 Bangladeshis since early June and 54 Nepalis have been killed by flash floods, lightning or landslides over the past three weeks, officials said.
More than 60 people have been killed in India, including 25 in West Bengal on Tuesday who were buried alive in landslides.
In parts of Assam, food is short because thousands of trucks are stranded on highways cut off by rising waters. Desperate villagers are pleading for air drops.
"Efforts are being made to rush supplies to them by boat," Assam's water resources minister, Nurjamal Sarkar, told Reuters by phone from Dispur, the state capital.
West Bengal authorities are struggling to suppy meat to leopards in a state-run leopard orphanage after a bridge leading to the site was washed away by floods.
Every year, hundreds of people die and millions are made homeless in South Asia due to floods in the monsoon season from June to September. But the monsoon rains are crucial for the region, especially for India where about 70 percent of its one billion people depend on agriculture to survive.