SYLHET, Bangladesh ( Associated Press) – Villagers in northeastern Bangladesh packed temporary shelters and scrambled oncoming boats with food and drinking water as heavy flooding left dozens dead and hundreds of thousands displaced and continued to wreak havoc in neighboring India on Tuesday.
In Sylhet, one of the hardest-hit areas in the country’s far north-east and near the border with India, people swim, sail through the water or on makeshift rafts aboard an aid delivery boat, located in a shelter. is where the water reaches. to the middle of the first floor.
The city along the Soorma river is in the grip of floods, but after heavy rains at the start of this monsoon season, Mehdi Hassan Parvez said he had never seen anything like it.
“In some cases the second floor of buildings has even been flooded,” explained a local businessman sitting in a small boat while waiting his turn to receive a package of rice, canned food and other basic products.
“Some people have gone three days without water at home,” he said. “They don’t have food at home and can’t go to the market to buy supplies.”
Monsoon rains in South Asia usually begin in June. But this year’s rains began in March in northeast India and Bangladesh, and floods began in Bangladesh in April.
Now that global temperatures are rising due to climate change, experts say the monsoon is becoming more variable and most of the rainfall that normally occurs in all seasons is concentrated over a short period of time.
Meghalaya, a mountainous region in India north of Sylhet, and the neighboring state of Assam, which is famous for its tea gardens, received much higher-than-normal rainfall in June.
The settlements of Mawsynram and Cherrapunji, which are among the rainiest areas on the planet in the extreme south of Meghalaya state on the Bangladesh plains, recorded more than 970 millimeters (38 inches) of rain on Sunday alone. Indian Meteorological Department.
Meghalaya has already received 174% of the average June rainfall in the first three weeks of the month. Assam is 97% of its monthly average in the same period.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday flew over several flooded areas in a helicopter and urged regional authorities to step up relief efforts.
For now, the reported deaths in Bangladesh ranged from 12 to 32 people, although the United Nations Children’s Agency said about 4 million people were isolated from floods in the country’s northeast and needed immediate help. .
UNICEF said in a report on Monday that 1.6 million children are among those people and they will be at serious risk of water-borne diseases if they do not get clean water.
In the Sylhet region, 90% of health centers have been flooded and thousands of people are taking shelter in overcrowded shelters, the agency said.
Across the mountain range north of Sylhet, in the Indian state of Assam, torrential rains lashed the Brahmaputra River in several places, causing destruction and massive landslides.
Assam authorities on Tuesday reported 10 more deaths due to floods, taking the total toll to 64, while 17 others were killed in landslides.
The National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Army have evacuated thousands of people from their homes in the past week and many are still feared missing. About 1.25 million people now live in emergency camps.
The Brahmaputra River flows from India into northern Bangladesh on its way to the Bay of Bengal. The Bangladeshi Flood Forecast and Warning Center on Tuesday warned of dangerous water levels for the next five days.
Ghoshal reported from New Delhi. Associated Press writers David Rising in Bangkok, Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Sheikh Salik in New Delhi contributed to this report.