Dozens dead, thousands homeless in Bangladesh, floods in India

SYLHET, Bangladesh (AP) — Villagers in northeast Bangladesh swarmed makeshift refugee centers and rushed to meet arriving boats with food and fresh water amid massive flooding, which has killed dozens and displaced hundreds of thousands there and in neighboring India, continued to wreak havoc. havoc on Tuesday.

In Sylhet, one of the hardest hit areas in the far northeast of the country, near the border with India, villagers waded, swam and rowed in makeshift rafts or small boats until a boat delivering aid moored to a shelter, the ground floor of which was covered. halfway to the ceiling with water.

The low-lying village along the Surma River is prone to flooding, but with the extreme rainfall at the start of this year’s monsoon season, villager Mehedi Hasan Parvez said he had never seen anything ‘as bad.

“In some cases, even the second floor of the buildings was flooded,” said the local businessman, sitting in a small boat waiting for his turn to receive a packet of rice, canned goods and other produce from base.

“Some people have been without water at home for three days,” he said. “They have no food at home and cannot go to the market to stock up.”

Monsoon rains in South Asia usually begin in June. But this year, heavy downpours hit northeast India and Bangladesh in March, causing flooding in Bangladesh in April.

With rising global temperatures due to climate change, experts say the monsoon is becoming more variable, meaning much of the rain that would typically fall in a season arrives in a shorter period.

Meghalaya, the mountainous region of India north of Sylhet, and the neighboring state of Assam, famous for its tea plantations, saw much more rain in June than usual.

In the settlements of Mawsynram and Cherrapunji, some of the wettest areas in the world on the southern outskirts of Meghalaya state that overlook the plains of Bangladesh, more than 970 millimeters (38 inches) of rain was recorded on Sunday alone, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

Meghalaya has already received 174% of its total June average rainfall in the first three weeks of the month. Assam is at 97% of its monthly average over the same period.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inspected many flooded areas by helicopter on Tuesday and urged regional leaders to speed up relief efforts during a meeting with them.

So far reports of deaths in Bangladesh range between 12 and 32, but the UN children’s agency said around 4 million people have been cut off by the floods in the northeast of the country and are in urgent need of assistance.

UNICEF said in a report on Monday that they include 1.6 million children and that without fresh drinking water they could be at serious risk of water-borne diseases.

In the Sylhet region, 90% of health facilities were flooded and thousands of people took refuge in overcrowded shelters, the agency said.

In a makeshift shelter, a village woman shared a small room with more than half a dozen other people and two of her family’s livestock, saying she had little choice.

“My house was destroyed by the floodwaters,” said the woman, who identified herself only as Jainabunnesa.

Across the mountain range north of Sylhet in the Indian state of Assam, torrential rains caused the Brahmaputra River to overflow in many areas, causing massive destruction and landslides.

Authorities in Assam on Tuesday reported 10 more deaths from flooding, bringing the total to 64, and another 17 killed in landslides.

The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Army last week evacuated thousands of people from the rooftops of their homes with rubber dinghies. They fear that some people are still missing.

Nearly a quarter of a million people now live in emergency relief camps.

The Brahmaputra River flows from India into northern Bangladesh en route to the Bay of Bengal, and the Bangladesh Flood Forecasting and Warning Center warned on Tuesday of dangerously high waters for the next five days.

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Ghosal reported from New Delhi. Associated Press writers David Rising in Bangkok, Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Sheikh Saaliq in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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