Floods, landslides kill 165 across India, Nepal and Bangladesh with fears of more torrential rains to come
Consecutive days of heavy downpours has forced thousands from their homes, left many marooned and threatens to cause rivers to burst their banks
At least 165 people have died and thousands have fled their homes as monsoon floods swept across Nepal, India and Bangladesh, officials said on Monday, warning the toll could rise as the extent of the damage becomes clear.
Three days of relentless downpours caused the flash floods and landslides, which killed at least 70 in Nepal and 73 across northern and eastern India, and 22 in Bangladesh.
About 200,000 people are now living in emergency camps in Assam in northeast India, which suffers frequent flooding during the annual monsoon rains. Another 15,000 have had to leave their homes in the eastern state of Bihar, which borders Nepal and where officials said seven rivers had reached dangerous levels.
Huge swathes of the state were submerged in 2008 when a river burst its banks across the border in Nepal, with the two countries trading blame for the disaster.
A massive landslide in the mountainous north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh swept two passenger buses off a hillside and into a deep gorge, killing at least 46 people on Sunday. Three more people were killed when heavy rains triggered another landslide in the northern state of Uttarakhand, local police said.
Bangladesh deployed troops to shore up embankments in the north of the country, where flooding has killed 22 people.
Local government administrator Kazi Hasan Ahmed said up to 700,000 people had been marooned by floodwaters after rivers burst their banks following days of heavy rain.
“We’ve not seen such severe floods in Dinajpur since 1988,” he said, referring to the worst-hit district.
“The town protection embankment was washed away by floodwater, submerging most of the main town.”
The government’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre warned that water levels in some major rivers would continue to rise over the next 72 hours, raising fears the flooding could spread.
In Nepal, more than 48,000 homes were totally submerged by the floods and 21,000 people displaced, according to police.
As emergency workers struggled to reach remote areas, the country’s home ministry said another 47 people were missing, presumed dead.
The Nepal Red Cross warned that shortages of drinking water and food could create a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Himalayan country.
“In many parts of the country there is a scarcity of safe drinking water creating a high risk of health hazards,” spokesman Dibya Raj Poudel said.
“Several villages and settlements are unreachable. Telecommunications, mobile phones are still not working so it difficult to give a full assessment.”
The southern lowlands of Nepal known as the Terai have so far bore the brunt of the monsoon deluge.
The Terai is the country’s most fertile region and the economic toll is expected to be severe.
“We are getting reports that about 70 per cent of agriculture area in the Tarai is inundated,” said Shankar Sapkota, senior agricultural economist with the government.
“Paddy fields, vegetable plantation and fish farms have been affected but right now we cannot confirm the extent of damage.”
The rains are now expected to shift westwards and Nepalese authorities have started to evacuate 74,000 people from the area that is expected to be hit.
Nearly 150 people have been killed in Nepal since the beginning of the rainy season in late June.
Hundreds have died in torrential rain, floods and landslides in neighbouring India during the annual monsoon, which hits the country’s southern tip in early June and sweeps across the nation, through to September.