Millions hit by floods in Bangladesh, India

Published June 19, 2022
Sylhet: A woman with children wades a flooded street.—AFP
Sylhet: A woman with children wades a flooded street.—AFP

SYLHET: Monsoon storms in Bangladesh and India have killed at least 59 people and unleashed devastating floods that left millions of others stranded, officials said on Saturday.

Floods are a regular menace to millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh, but experts say climate change is increasing their frequency, ferocity and unpredictability.

Relentless downpours over the past week have inundated vast stretches of Bangladesh’s northeast, with troops deployed to evacuate households cut off from neighbouring communities.

Schools have been turned into relief shelters to house entire villages inundated in a matter of hours by rivers that suddenly burst their banks. “The whole village went under water by early on Friday and we all got stranded,” said Lokman, whose family lives in Companiganj village.

At least 59 lives lost, villages inundated

“After waiting a whole day on the roof of our home, a neighbour rescued us with a makeshift boat. My mother said she has never seen such floods in her entire life,” the 23-year-old added.

Asma Akhter, another woman rescued from the rising waters, said her family had not been able to eat for two days. “The water rose so quickly we couldn’t bring any of our things,” she said.

“And how can you cook anything when everything is underwater?” Lightning triggered by the storms has killed at least 21 people around the South Asian nation since Friday afternoon, police officials said.

At least 16 people have been killed since Thursday in India’s remote Meghalaya, the state’s chief minister Conrad Sangma wrote on Twitter, after landslides and surging rivers that submerged roads.

Next door in Assam, more than 2.6 million people have been affected by floods after five days of incessant downpour.

Flooding in Bangladesh worsened on Saturday morning after a temporary reprieve from the rains the previous afternoon, Sylhet region chief government administrator Mosharraf Hossain said.

“The situation is bad. More than four million people have been stranded by flood water,” Hossain said, adding that nearly the entire region was without electricity.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2022

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