At least 120 people have been killed and tens of thousands affected by floods and landslides triggered by monsoon rains across Nepal, the government said yesterday, in the worst such calamity in nearly a decade.
Some 35 people were still missing and 39 injured as emergency workers scrambled to supply relief to areas devastated by the floods.
Torrential rains battered the low-lying region bordering India for three days last week.
Yesterday, the government sent helicopters to a dozen districts where people were desperate for food and clean drinking water, Ram Krishna Subedi, a home ministry spokesman, said.
“We have sent food packets to people because they have been without food for several days.
We have also sent tarps, clothes and cooking utensils,” he told DPA.
“We have been distributing free medicines to flood-affected people for a week.
We have also sent water purifiers to prevent water-borne diseases,” he said.
“We have been out on the road without food and clean drinking water for the past four days.
Many elderly, pregnant and postpartum mothers and children have fallen ill,” a man from a flood-stricken area in western Nepal, was quoted as saying by the The Kathmandu Post yesterday.
The Home Ministry said 26,000 emergency workers, including police officers and soldiers, were deployed in flood-hit areas across the country.
Every year, floods and landslides triggered by rains cause numerous deaths in Nepal, where the monsoon season lasts from June to September.
At least 39 people have died and more than 2.6mn have been affected after monsoon floods engulfed vast areas of northern Bangladesh, officials said.
Many of the victims drowned while others were electrocuted, disaster management official Abdul Kuddus Bulbul told DPA.
All of the dead came from the eight administrative districts most severely affected by the floods.
Homesteads and farmland in vast areas of 18 north and north-eastern districts have been submerged by the onrush of waters from rivers in neighbouring India, Bulbul added.
More than 350,000 people have been shifted to 1,558 temporary shelters, which were opened as water levels on major river basins including those of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna continued to rise, said Bulbul.
Relief and Disaster Management Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury said the government had sent out an adequate quantity of dry foods to feed the flood-affected people.
“We have allocated 2,541 tonnes of rice and more than 10mn taka ($123,663) as emergency support for the flood victims,” the minister said.
Train services between Dhaka and five northern districts — Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh — have been suspended since Monday after railway tracks were submerged.
Engineers were working to restore the lines, Sabah Uddin Ahmed, a railway manager said.
More than 130 people were killed in June by landslides triggered by heavy rain in Bangladesh’s hilly south-east.
As the devastating floods across Bangladesh have damaged crop fields and exerted pressure on food stock, the government has decided to further reduce import duty on rice from 10% to 2% to replenish stocks and keep its prices stable.
Earlier, the government lowered the import duty from 28% to 10% during the flash floods. Food Minister Qamrul Islam disclosed the decision after a meeting of the Food Planning and Monitoring Committee held at the Secretariat in Dhaka yesterday.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, he said the decision to cut down the import duty was taken to stabilise the rice market and a circular will be issued soon in this regard.
The minister said they had a target to produce 19.1mn tonnes of rice in the country this year but it could not be achieved due to massive floods.
He said the government has decided to import 1.5mn tonnes of rice and 5,00,000 tonnes of wheat to boost the stock.
“The government has struck deals with Vietnam and Cambodia to buy 2,50,000 tonnes of rice from each country,” he said, adding that most rice imported from Vietnam has already reached the country.
Asked how much rice has so far imported, Qamrul said, “Some 2,50,000 tonnes have already entered our sea boundary. The rest will be imported by the current fiscal year,” he said. There is no scarcity of rice in the country and the prices also remain people’s purchasing capacity, he claimed.
The minister said the government will provide rice at 10 taka per kg among the poor people under the Food-friendly Programme from September which will continue for three months.
Each of the 5mn families across the country will be able to buy at least 33kg of rice per month, he added. Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Agriculture Minister and Matia Chowdhury were present at the meeting.
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