Skip to comments.Monsoon floods devastate South Asia (killing at least 166 people, washing away villages, farmland)
Posted on 08/02/2007 2:47:57 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
GAUHATI, India - Teeming monsoon rains have inundated wide swaths of northern India and neighboring Bangladesh, killing at least 166 people and washing away villages and farmland that 19 million people depend on, officials said Thursday.
With rain-swollen rivers bursting their banks along the fertile plains south of the Himalayas, India sent soldiers to help evacuate people from some of the worst-hit areas.
"I have not seen such flooding in the last 24 years. It's a sheet of water everywhere," said Santosh Mishra, a resident of the Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh, one of the areas soldiers were sent. Authorities urged residents of 65 nearby villages to evacuate.
"There are no signs of houses, temples or trees," Mishra told the local Sahara Samay television channel.
Some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh were displaced or marooned by the flooding, according to government figures, with at least 120 people killed in recent days in India and 46 more in Bangladesh.
Among the hardest hit regions was the northeastern Indian state of Assam, the two northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and neighboring Bangladesh, where relentless rains have caused dozens of swollen rivers to burst their banks and inundate the surrounding regions.
"The situation is grim," said Bhumidhar Barman, a minister in the Assam state government.
The monsoon season in South Asia runs from June to September and is vital to the region's agriculture, a giant source of income and food. But the monsoons are always dangerous, with more than 1,000 people dying last year, most by drowning, landslides, house collapses or electrocution.
In New Delhi, India's Meteorological Department said unusual monsoon patterns this year led to heavier than usual rains in these regions, while central India had only light rains. "We've been getting constant rainfall in these areas for nearly 20 days," said B. P. Yadav, a spokesman for the department.
In Assam, some 100,000 displaced people were staying in government relief camps while hundreds of thousands more sought shelter on higher ground, setting up makeshift dwellings. Millions more were cut off from the rest of the country.
Flood waters washed away 1,640 yards of highway and a wooden bridge on the only alternate road in the worst hit Dhemaji region in Assam, said Dibakar Misra, a government official.
He said railway services were suspended and boats were used to rescue people as waters reached 30 feet deep in some places.
Atul Deka, a farmer, watched helplessly as swirling waters washed away the bamboo footbridge connecting his village to the road.
"We couldn't do anything as it happened in a flash. Now, we have to depend on the few row boats we have until the floods recede and we build the bridge all over again," said Deka, from Satdola, on the outskirts of Gauhati, the capital of Assam.
Meanwhile, medical teams were trying to visit different regions by boat to make sure that there were no outbreaks of water-born diseases like cholera.
In Bihar, 120 relief centers had been set up but some people still had to camp out along highways, said Manoj Srivastava, a state disaster management official.
In Uttar Pradesh, the army was called in to help evacuate people from 500 flooded villages, said Diwakar Tripathi, a senior government official, adding that crops worth hundreds of thousands of dollars had been ruined. On Wednesday, 28 people died when the overcrowded boat evacuating them from their village sank in a swollen river.
In Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 145 million people, the River Jamuna breached its banks, inundating much of Sirajganj, a small town 65 miles northwest of the capital, Dhaka.
Schools and government offices have been closed as streets in Sirajganj were under waist-high water.
Associated Press reporters Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India and Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report.
What’s the deal with these monsoons?! They’ve been happening
every year through all of recorded history, like clockwork,
and still it comes as a big surprise to the South Asians.
Surely that’s the first thing you learn in Civil Eng. 101:
make somewhere for water to go.
South Asian monsoons displace millions
LUCKNOW, India - Havoc from monsoon rains killed another 12 people in India, including two children swept away by floods and a man attacked by a rhinoceros forced out of its inundated habitat, officials said Saturday. Helicopters dropped food to hundreds of thousands of frightened villagers perched on rooftops.
Vital to farmers, the annual rains are a blessing and a curse for the subcontinent. At least 198 people have been killed in India and neighboring Bangladesh and 19 million driven from their homes in recent days, according to government figures.
The South Asian monsoon season runs from June to September as the rains work their way across the subcontinent. It’s always dangerous last year more than 1,000 people died, most from drowning, landslides or house collapses.
This year, estimates of total deaths vary wildly from a few hundred to well over 1,000.
Two villagers were killed in a house collapse and two children were swept away by flood waters in several districts of India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state. Another person died from a snake bite on a flooded road, said Surender Shrivastav, a state official.
Helicopters dropped food to nearly 2 million people in 2,200 villages cut off by flood waters in the worst-hit eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, said Umesh Sinha, the state relief commissioner, adding that nearly 279,223 acres of paddy rice crops have been destroyed in the region.
On Friday, six people drowned in northeastern Assam state. One-horned rhinos straying from the state’s Kaziranga National Park killed one person and injured two others, said state Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman.
Jehir Ali, 28, was riding a bicycle near the village of Gendheli when a rhino charged at him, said Dhiren Gogoi, a wildlife official.
“Ali fell down and was badly mauled by the adult rhino. He was shifted to a hospital where he died,” Gogoi told The Associated Press.
Seventy percent of Kaziranga Park has been flooded by the Brahmaputra River, forcing out several rhinos.
“Two rhinos have entered villages in the area resulting in panic among the population,” Diganta Barbaruah, another wildlife official, said.
With hundreds of villages submerged across the fertile plains that stretch along the southern edge of the Himalayas, people were taking refuge wherever they could.
Women and children were spotted screaming for help from treetops in Uttar Pradesh. In parts of the state, river levels rose so quickly that villagers had no time to save any belongings.
“The gush of water was so sudden we did not get the time to react,” Vinod Kumar, a resident of a flooded village in Basti district, told Enadu TV.
One woman in Uttar Pradesh who identified herself only as Savitra said she had not “eaten anything for the last two days.”
Health workers were fanning out across parts of Bangladesh and India to try to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and cholera.
In northwestern Bangladesh, farmer Rahmat Sheikh and his family were among 2,000 people who fled their flooded village for higher ground in the Sirajganj district.
“The floods have taken away all I had,” said the 40-year-old Sheikh. “Rice paddies in the field, two cows and my house all are gone. I don’t know how we will now survive.”
Some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh have been displaced or marooned by flooding, according to government figures. At least 144 people have died in India and 54 more in Bangladesh.
India’s Meteorological Department said unusual monsoon patterns this year have led to heavier than normal rains.
Associated Press reporters Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Wasbir Hussain in Gauhati contributed to this report.