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Monsoon floods hit new areas in South Asia; death toll reaches 475

Monsoon floods hit new areas in South Asia; death toll reaches 475

Heavy monsoon rains lashed new areas of India, submerging dozens of villages in the west, as health workers raced to provide food and medicine to avert an outbreak of disease in the water-logged north, officials said Thursday.
More than two weeks of monsoon rains across much of northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal have flooded rivers and inundated plains, killing at least 475 people and stranding some 19 million more, officials said.
Air force helicopters joined army and civil authorities in rescue operations after torrential rains on Wednesday cut off more than 400 villages in western Indian Gujarat state, killing at least seven people, said D.A. Satya, a top state official.
The worst-hit Junagadh district received 471 millimeters (18.5 inches) of rain in 24 hours, submerging several villages under 6 feet (1.83 meters) of water, Satya told The Associated Press.
Authorities shifted more than 17,000 people to camps on higher ground in Rajkot, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Surat and Porbander districts where 564 villages were left without electricity, he said.
Another seven deaths were reported in northern Uttar Pradesh state overnight, including a child who fell from the roof of his home into flood waters and was swept away, said Surender Shrivastav, a police spokesman.
The six others were killed either when their houses collapsed, from snake bites or electrocution from contact with submerged electric wires in Basti district and neighboring areas, Shrivastav said.
There were no further reports of disease. Nearly 1,000 people have been treated for cholera and gastroenteritis in Uttar Pradesh, officials said.
With flood waters receding in the north and thousands of villagers returning to their homes, aid workers have rushed food, clean drinking water and medicine to flood-hit areas to ward off a disease epidemic.
Villagers have been given chlorine tablets to purify drinking water and were advised to take precautions for the next few days, said L.B. Prasad, the director-general of state health services.
"Adequate stocks of medicines have reached the flood-hit areas," he said in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday.
International aid agencies have warned that stagnant waters left by the floods are a lethal breeding ground for germs causing diarrhea, waterborne diseases, and various skin diseases, with children, who make up 40 percent of South Asia's population, particularly susceptible.
In Bangladesh, there were 1,400 reported cases of diarrhea this week, said Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the Word Health Organization.
The World Food Program and UNICEF have been distributing emergency food supplies to thousands of people in Bangladesh and Nepal, said WFP spokesman Simon Pluess in Geneva. India has not requested any aid, he said.
On Thursday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an appeal for US$1.7 million (euro1.24 million) to help those affected by flooding in southern Nepal.
More than 21,500 families, or around 127,000 people, have been displaced by floods and landslides, while at least 26,500 houses have been damaged or destroyed, according to the Nepal Red Cross Society.
The IFRC also is planning to scale up its relief operations in Bangladesh, where millions of people remain in urgent need of food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, clothing and shelter, it said in a statement.
At least 265 people have died in India in the past two weeks because of the monsoon floods and another 210 people have died in Bangladesh, the Information Ministry said. In Bangladesh, 165 deaths have been caused by drowning, 35 by snakebites and 10 from flood-related illness, such as diarrhea.
Since the start of the monsoon in June, the government says more than 1,400 people have died in India alone.
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Associated Press reporter Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India, R.K. Misra in Ahmadabad, India, and Parveen Ahmed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-20 17:56 GMT+08:00