297 die in South Asia floods

DHAKA: Poisonous snakes, cholera and landslides brought more deaths among the seven million people affected by flooding in South Asia, bringing the toll from six weeks of monsoon rains to 297, relief and government officials said yesterday. 

Bangladesh, where 2.5 million people are marooned by overflowing rivers, has suffered the most, with 154 dead, the officials said. 

Snakes, flushed out of their holes by the floods, killed four people on Tuesday in Sirajganj district, about 100km north-west of this Bangladeshi capital. 

Also on Tuesday, five children drowned in floodwaters in Sirajganj and northern Gaibandha district. 

INUNDATED: Residents using a boat to leave their flood-hit village at Goalpara, about 250km west of Gauhati, India, on Tuesday. Weeks of monsoon flooding in Assam have submerged some 3,000 villages.

India has 76 confirmed deaths, most in north-eastern Assam state, where more than three million people are cut off by raging waters. 

In the eastern Indian state of Bihar, state officials said yesterday that more than one million people have been affected by the floods, which have destroyed four million rupees (RM332,000) worth of crops, and almost 1,000 houses.  

The latest threat was from spreading cholera and diarrhoea, which has affected 250,000 people, district magistrate Amrit Lal Meena said. 

Floodwaters subsided in parts of India's West Bengal state, where 25 people had died in landslides in the Darjeeling Hills tourist region, and officials were able to open the main road, Darjeeling police chief Sanjay Chandra said yesterday.  

Relief workers had been able to get food and plastic sheeting for shelter to at least 1,000 people whose villages were flooded by the overflowing Teesta and Torsa rivers. 

A fresh landslide swept through the remote mountain village of Ikhabu in north-eastern Nepal, destroying two dozen houses and leaving at least four people missing, said Lekhnath Pokhrel of the Natural Calamity Disaster Management Centre in Kathmandu.  

Floods, lightning strikes and mudslides have killed 67 people in Nepal. 

In Bangladesh, thousands of people were camping on mud embankments or the roofs of their submerged houses in 25 of the country's 64 districts.  

They lacked adequate supplies of food and drinking water, and were beginning to suffer from waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea, because wells have been inundated, forcing people to drink polluted water.  

The government said it has been unable to bring water-purification tablets to remote villages. – AP 

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