Heavy rains, floods across South Asia

2017-08-15 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  Heavy monsoon rains in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh and India have killed more than 160 people in the last week, officials said on Tuesday, as authorities rushed to rescue those missing or stranded in flooded areas. 

In Nepal, the death toll rose to 115 amid more flash floods and landslides, with 38 people missing. Relief workers said 26 of Nepal's 75 districts were either submerged or had been hit by landslides after rain lashed the Himalayan nation.   

The floods and landslides have also caused massive damage to Nepal's energy infrastructure, leaving almost half of the country reeling under power outages in what is the worst disaster to hit Nepal in nearly 10 years.

Floods in north Bangladesh have killed at least 27 people in the last few days and affected more than 500,000, many of them fleeing their homes to shelter in camps, officials said.    The situation could get worse as heavy rain in parts of neighboring India flow downstream into the low-lying and densely populated country, they said. 

In India, scores have died and thousands have fled their homes as monsoon floods swept across the states of Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Bihar and several northeastern states. 

In Bihar, at least 40  people are feared dead and over 6.5 million have been affected after heavy rains triggered flash floods so far.  The  national disaster relief force teams have been airlifted in to help with rescue and relief work, the government said.  Media reported that about two million people in the state had been affected, and at least 10 killed.

In Uttarakhand the death toll in landslides following cloudbursts could be as high as 28.  Hindustan Times reported that the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat flew to the rain-hit areas in Pithoragarh district later on Tuesday.

Assam, in the north-east, is one of the worst-hit states as 32 lakh people in 25 districts have been affected and three more persons lost their lives taking the toll in the second wave of the deluge to 18.  According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) the toll in this year's flood-related incidents in the state climbed to 102. 

Officials said the floods have submerged over 80 percent of Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, home to the famed one-horned rhinos of India, forcing animals to seek higher grounds.

Train services to north-east India have also been disrupted following the rains. All incoming trains from various parts of the country towards the North East, have been cancelled, an official told PTI.

India's meteorological department is forecasting more heavy rain into Wednesday.

PTI reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the chief ministers of Bihar and Assam, assuring them of all support of the Union government to mitigate the floods.

Very heavy rains also occurred at most places in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.   Some 60,000 people have been affected by the floods all major rivers in north Bengal flowing above danger marks

Many places in Odisha and Chhattisgarh state also received heavy rains, while Madhya Pradesh witnessing moderate rainfall.

Monsoon rains, which start in June and continue through September, are a lifeline for farmers in vast parts of rural India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, but they also cause loss of life and property damage every year.

(from Vatican Radio)