Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Heavy rains leave flood-ravaged South Asia reeling

REUTERS , DHAKA

Heavy overnight rains brought fresh misery to South Asia, where monsoon floods have killed about 370 people and left more than 8 million marooned or homeless.

The impoverished region has been reeling under its worst floods in 15 years with people marooned in remote villages in India, Nepal and Bangladesh after torrential rains.

"Most of the rivers are overflowing and fast changing course, submerging large areas of human population," S.R. Islam, a flood control official in the east Indian city of Guwahati, told reporters yesterday.

He said troops had been sent in rubber boats for relief and rescue operations after heavy rains in the northeastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, causing more flooding.

Heavy rains have also battered other parts of Asia, including China and Japan, but South Asia has been worst-hit.

In Bangladesh, about 1 million people have been stranded in low-lying areas of the capital, Dhaka, over the past two days because of swollen rivers, including the Buriganga.

Six more deaths were reported from northern districts, taking the toll in Bangladesh to 139. Road and rail transport was suspended in most affected areas.

A Bangladesh Red Crescent relief team was attacked by an angry mob as they tried to distribute food at a relief village late on Sunday.

The team fled with the help of police, reporters said. Witnesses said people were suffering from a lack of food and drinking water because of poor coordination over relief efforts.

Authorities have already distributed 8,600 tonnes of rice and 13.68 million taka (US$229,900) in cash to flood victims.

Floods also worsened in several ares of the eastern Indian state of Bihar, where four more deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

But bright sunshine brought a welcome relief to Nepal, where officials said the situation was fast improving because of almost no rain over the past two days.

People in flood-hit Nepal sacrificed goats in swollen rivers on Sunday as they prayed to the Hindu rain god Indra for an end to a deluge in South Asia.

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