S. Asia Monsoon Kills Over 1000, Displaces 19 Million

( [email protected] ) Aug 03, 2007 02:33 PM EDT
The heaviest monsoon rain said to hit South Asia in over three decades has killed over 1,000 people and driven some 19 million locals from their flooded homes.
A man helps a woman cross a flooded road at Manikganj, 70km (44 miles) from the capital Dhaka, August 3, 2007. More than 200 people have died in monsoon flooding in South Asia in the last 10 days while more than 10 million remained marooned in their villages or homeless on Friday, with many having no access to health care. (Photo Reuters/Rafiqur Rahman)

The heaviest monsoon rain said to hit South Asia in over three decades has killed over 1,000 people and driven some 19 million locals from their flooded homes.

“The sheer size and scale of the flooding and the massive numbers of people affected poses an unprecedented challenge to the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance," said the United Nations’ children’s fund UNICEF in a statement.

Officials say some 1,028 people have died in India alone, according to Agence France-Presse Friday. Moreover, some 1.6 million acres of crops have been destroyed estimated at a loss of some $11 million, reported A.K. Chowdhury, Bihar state chief secretary.

"The flood situation is very, very serious; the situation we have now is unprecedented in the past 30 years," Chowdhury told AFP.

Fearful victims are reportedly perching in treetops and on roofs as flood waters overtake their land below. Roads are submerged, animals swept away, and crops have been destroyed in large areas in northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Survivors are currently worried about food supply.

“We have not eaten anything for last two days,” said a woman in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, who identified herself only as Savitra, according to The Associated Press Friday.

“Whatever we had at our home was washed away,” she added.

Over a month of torrential rains has hit the state of Uttar Pradesh with many villagers saying they could not flee because the water levels rose too rapidly.

“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, according to AP. “All our things have been washed away. We do not have food, kerosene or even a match box.

“The officials are saying relief is coming, but nothing has come so far.”

Soldiers have evacuated 500 villagers in Uttar Pradesh alone on Friday, said the state’s relief commissioner, Umesh Sinha, to AP.

Other parts of India, such as its financial capital Mumbai, have also been hit hard by rain with knee-high water levels.

World Vision, one of the world’s largest Christian humanitarian organizations, has partnered with the Bangladesh government over the past few days to distribute urgent relief items to communities affected by the floods.

A total of 200 families at a community center in the northern Netrokona district have thus far received the relief materials, according to a WV Bangladesh report. Each family received two relief packages which include lentils, vegetable oil, salt, rice, candles, matches and soap.

WV said it plans to continue its distribution program and expand it to help thousands of more flood-affected families in the area.

Monsoon season in South Asia is a normal, annual event which is essential for the region’s agriculture. However, the season always carries threats of flooding the region. The season runs from June to September.

So far this year, some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh have been displaced or isolated by the flooding, according to the government figures. At least 132 people have died in recent days in India and another 54 people in Bangladesh, according to AP.