Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Nepalese sacrifice goats to stop Asian floods

MONSOON SEASON More than 350 people have died in the worst floods in 15 years due to torrential rains in India, Bangladesh and Nepal

REUTERS , KATHMANDU

A Bangladeshi mother with her two children wait for a boat to take them to a shelter in Kazipur near Sirajganj district, 150km northwest of the capital, Dhaka, yesterday. About 12 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have been hit by torrential rains and more than 8 million left marooned or homeless by floods that are the region's worst in 15 years.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Hundreds of people in flood-hit Nepal sacrificed goats in swollen rivers yesterday to pray for an end to a deluge in South Asia that has killed more than 350 people and left millions homeless.

The impoverished region has been reeling under its worst floods in 15 years following torrential rains in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, triggering a crisis in relief efforts to help people marooned in remote villages.

"People sacrifice goats to please God, believing there will be no more floods or natural disasters," Raju Thapa, a 60-year-old resident of Kathmandu, the Nepali capital, told reporters.

Heavy rains have also battered other parts of Asia, such as Japan and China, where more than 64,000 people have been affected after rains caused two rivers to overflow their banks.

China's Xinhua news agency reported floods were threatening vast tracts of land in the remote Tibetan plateau after rainfall in some areas hit record highs. More than 31,000 people in the region have been affected by flooding.

In Afghanistan, two children were killed flooding in the central highlands, taking to 10 the toll from unusually heavy rain in parts of the country.

But worst-hit is South Asia, where 12 million people have been hit by torrential rains and more than eight million left marooned or made homeless by floods since the monsoon season began.

Angry flood victims in the poverty-stricken region, where floods have inundated vast tracts of farmland and cut rail and road links, demonstrated yesterday for the third day in protest against governments over inadequate relief supplies of food.

Floods continued to inundate fresh areas in Bangladesh, where huge stretches of farmland have been submerged and 300,000 people have been newly stranded in their flooded homes.

"For the last four days, we're almost unfed, no one with relief has come to help us," said Abdul Ghani Sheikh, the head of a family of six, at Kazipara about 150km from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Authorities in eastern India have been rushing medicine and food to people stranded in the states of Assam and Bihar.

They are also gearing to tackle any outbreak of disease, since large parts of the region are covered by lakes of water.

In Nepal, about 12,000 people are already suffering from gastroenteritis and other water-borne diseases.

"There will be a rise in dysentery, typhoid and snake bites in coming days and we are ready to face the situation effectively," a senior health official in Kathmandu said.

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