Millions in Bangladesh, India await relief after deadly floods
June 20 2022 11:55 PM
India Floods
People collect food aid in a flooded residential area following heavy monsoon rainfalls in Companiganj, Bangladesh, yesterday.

Reuters/Dhaka/Guwahati, India

Authorities in flood-hit Bangladesh and northeastern India scrambled yesterday to provide aid to more than 9mn people marooned after the heaviest rains in years killed at least 54 people across both nations, officials said.
Monsoon rains in low-lying Bangladesh have triggered catastrophic flooding in the northeastern Sylhet administrative division, leaving a quarter of its 15mn population stranded amid fast-rising waters and swollen rivers.
“The flooding is the worst in 122 years in the Sylhet region,” said Atiqul Haque, director general of Bangladesh’s department of disaster management.
The situation in Sylhet has been worsened by waters cascading down from the surrounding hills of India’s Meghalaya state, including some of world’s wettest areas like Mawsynram and Cherrapunji that each received more than 970mm (38 inches) of rain on Sunday, according to government data.
Around 300,000 people have been moved to shelters in Sylhet but more than 4mn people are stranded near their inundated homes, compounding the challenges for authorities to provide aid, including drinking water and medical supplies.
“The situation is still alarming,” Mohamed Mosharraf Hossain, Sylhet division’s chief administrator, said.
“We are intensifying our efforts providing relief materials. At the moment, the main challenge is to reach everyone and ensuring availability of drinking water.”
Khalilur Rahman, a resident of Sylhet’s Sunamganj district, said flood waters had swamped the ground floor of his two-storeyed house and locals were using boats to move around the area.
“I have never seen such floods in my life,” Rahman, 43, said adding that there had been no electricity since heavy rains began on Thursday night.”Dry food is running out, there is no drinking water.”
In the neighbouring Indian state of Assam, where at least 26 people have been killed since heavy rains began around a fortnight ago, flood waters have started receding, authorities said.
But 4.5mn people have been forced from their homes, with around 220,000 staying in makeshift shelters run by the government.
Over 1mn hectares of farmland has been flooded.
“The overall flood situation is improving,” Assam’s Water Resources Minister Pijush Hazarika said.
“Now the biggest challenge is to reach out to the displaced people and provide them with relief materials.”
The two nations have experienced increasing extreme weather in recent years, causing large-scale damage, and environmentalists warn that climate change could lead to more disasters, especially in densely populated Bangladesh.
Meanwhile in India’s eastern state of Bihar, lightning triggered by storms killed at least 17 people, according to local disaster management minister Renu Devi.
In neighbouring Meghalaya state, at least 16 people have been killed since last Thursday after landslides and surging rivers that submerged roads.

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