DHAKA, Bangladesh ( Associated Press) – Authorities in India and Bangladesh on Monday struggled to deliver food and drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from their homes in days of flooding that flooded large parts of the country.
The floods caused by monsoon rains have killed more than a dozen people, killing millions and flooding millions of homes.
In Sylhet in northeastern Bangladesh along the Surmara River, villagers roamed through streets flooded to their knees. One man was standing in the doorway of his flooded store, where the top shelves were crammed with items in an attempt to keep them afloat. Local TV said millions remain without electricity.
Enamur Rahman, junior minister for disasters and emergency relief, said up to 100,000 people had been evacuated in the worst-hit districts, including Sylhet. About 4 million were stranded, United News of Bangladesh said.
Floods also plagued India’s northeastern Assam state, where two policemen involved in rescue operations were washed away by floodwaters on Sunday, government officials said. They said about 200,000 people sought refuge in 700 relief camps. Water in all major rivers in the state was above danger levels.
Prime Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday his administration used military helicopters to air food and fuel to heavily affected parts of the state.
Assam has already been hit by massive floods after torrential rains over the past few weeks caused the Brahmaputra River to break its banks, leaving millions of homes under water and breaking transport links.
The Brahmaputra flows from Tibet through India and to Bangladesh, with a nearly 800 kilometers (500 miles) journey through Assam.
Major roads in affected regions of Bangladesh were under water, leaving people stranded. In a country with a history of climate change-induced disasters, much frustration has been expressed that authorities have no longer acted locally.
“There is not much to say about the situation. You can see the water with your own eyes. The water level inside the room dropped a bit. It used to be up to my waist, ”said Muhit Ahmed, owner of a grocery store in Sylhet.
Bangladesh called in soldiers on Friday to help evacuate people, but Ahmed said he had not seen anything yet.
“We are in a big disaster. “Neither the Sylhet City Corporation nor anyone else came here to inquire about us,” he said. “I try to save my belongings as much as I can. We do not have the ability to do more now. ”
The National Flood Forecast and Warning Center said Sunday that floods in the northeastern districts of Sunamganj and Sylhet could worsen. It said the Teesta, a large river in northern Bangladesh, could rise above danger levels. The situation could also worsen in other northern districts, it said.
Officials said floodwaters began to recede in the northeast, but posed a threat to the central region, where water flows south to the Bay of Bengal.
Media reports said villagers in remote areas were struggling to obtain drinking water and food.
BRAC, a private nonprofit group, opened a food preparation center on Monday as part of plans to feed 5,000 families in one affected district, but arrangements were inadequate, senior director Arinjoy Dhar said. In a video posted online, Dhar asked for help providing food to people affected by floods.
Last month, a pre-monsoon flash flood caused by water upstream in India’s northeastern states hit Bangladesh’s northern and northeastern regions, destroying crops and damaging houses and roads.
Bangladesh is mostly flat and low-lying, so short-term floods during the monsoon season are common and are often beneficial to agriculture. But devastating floods hit the country every few years, damaging its infrastructure and economy. Nearly 28% of the country’s 160 million people live in coastal regions, according to the World Bank.
One of the worst floods occurred in 1988, when much of the country was flooded. In 1998, another devastating flood flooded nearly 75% of the country. In 2004, more prolonged flooding occurred.
Scientists say floods in Bangladesh have been exacerbated by climate change. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, about 17% of the population will have to relocate over the next decade or so if global warming continues at the current rate.