Floods kill 550 and devastate harvest in Bangladesh

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The Independent Online
BANGLADESH appealed yesterday for international help to deal with a devastating flood that has caused 550 deaths and disrupted the lives of 20 million people. The cabinet of the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, asked for assistance to cope with the damage, estimated at $220m (pounds 139.2m).

The government said it lacked food and medicine. Funds were also needed to reclaim agricultural land, for housing material, to rebuild and repair schools, for roads and rail tracks and for dredging rivers.

Since the floods began last month, all the country's rivers have overflowed, submerging 60 per cent of the land. Crops, roads, railways and homes were washed away or destroyed. About 100,000 people are reported ill with diarrhoea and at least 65 have died from water-borne diseases.

Weather experts said the flooding may continue until the middle of September when the seasonal monsoon rains end. Bangladesh, a delta region, is plagued by floods every year that claim many lives and cause widespread damage to the infrastructure. Last, night the army was called in to try to save an embankment in Dhaka, the capital, that had started to be breached. Officials said yesterday that more than half the city was already under water.