Floods in India and Bangladesh leave 41 people dead, millions stranded

Both countries have sought the help of their armed forces to deal with the crisis

Peony Hirwani
Saturday 18 June 2022 12:35 BST
Forty-one dead as floods continue to devastate India

Floods caused by monsoon rains in India and Bangladesh have killed at least 41 people and left millions of others stranded.

Bangladesh has been forced to deploy its army to its badly affected eastern region as the flood situation worsens, with water levels being at neck height in some areas. Many of the country’s rivers are reported to have risen to dangerous levels.

Lightning strikes have killed 15 people in Bangladesh since Friday, while landslides have killed four, police said on Saturday.

Authorities described the flooding as potentially the worst since 2004, adding that the situation had been exacerbated by run-off from heavy rain across India’s mountains.

Several villages near the eastern city of Sylhet, 230km (143 miles) from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, were cut off entirely from the rest of the country on Friday morning as the water level rose overnight, destroying communication links.

“Much of the country’s northeast is under water and the situation is getting worse as heavy downpour continues,” said Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain, chief administrator of Sylhet.

The district of Sunamganj has been affected the most, officials said, adding that the army was focused on rescuing those trapped there.

“There is a shortage of boats, which makes it harder to move people to safer places,” Mr Hossain said. “Today the navy is joining us in rescue efforts.”

A villager carrying a calf wades through flood water in Korea village, west of Guwahati, on 17 June (AP)

Authorities said water had entered homes in the villages of Companiganj and Gowainghat, leaving people stranded without any food or drinking water.

This is the worst flooding the region has witnessed in more than two decades, and follows a period of excessive rain that began at the end of May.

Local organisations in Bangladesh said people’s movements had been curtailed entirely by the high water levels, with flood water bringing snakes, leeches, and other creatures into people’s homes.

Most people who are stranded do not have access to boats, and are therefore unable to obtain basic necessities.

Some are reported to have taken shelter on the roofs of their homes as water levels were forecast to rise further. More rain is expected to fall during the next two days.

“The situation is alarming,” said Syed Rafiqul Haque, a former lawmaker and ruling party politician in Sunamganj district. “There is no electricity, no road connection, no mobile network. People are desperately in need of immediate shelter and food.”

Villagers on a raft make their way past homes in a flooded area after heavy rains in Nagaon district, Assam state, on 21 May (AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile in India, floods have cut a swathe across northeastern parts of the country, where millions of people have seen their homes submerged by flood waters.

The Brahmaputra, one of Asia’s largest rivers, breached its mud embankments, flooding 3,000 villages along with agricultural land in 28 of Assam’s 33 districts.

“We expect moderate to heavy rainfall in several parts of Assam until Sunday [19 June]. The volume of rainfall has been unprecedented,” said Sanjay O’Neil, an official at the meteorological station in Guwahati, Assam’s capital.

Several train services were also cancelled in India as a result of the incessant rain over the past week.

The Indian army has been asked to help those whose houses have been submerged by flood waters. “Soldiers are helping police and civil authorities in several parts of Assam in evacuating trapped villagers,” Jogen Mohan, Assam’s revenue minister, said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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