Monsoon floods death toll reaches 513
NEW DELHI – Relief workers reaching flooded villages in northern India reported new deaths Thursday from two weeks of monsoon rains, pushing the toll in South Asia to more than 500. In Bangladesh, villagers waded through chin-deep water, with one man carrying a monkey to safety on his head.Two days of heavy rains left 15 people dead in India’s western Gujarat state and more than 22,000 people were evacuated from flooded villages, said D.A. Satya, a top state official.With floods receding in some areas and thousands of villagers returning home, aid workers rushed in food, clean drinking water and medicine to ward off an epidemic of waterborne diseases.In India’s northeastern Bihar state, 29 people were reported killed over the last two weeks, said Manoj Srivastava, a member of the state disaster management committee. Another 16 deaths were reported in northern Uttar Pradesh state on Thursday, state relief commissioner Umesh Sinha told reporters. Nearly 2,300 villages were still under water, he said.In Bangladesh’s Munshigonj district, a man waded in water up to his neck, pulling a makeshift raft carrying two women, a boy and large clay jars of drinking water. Another man tried to reach dry ground through water up to his chin, carrying a monkey trained to perform tricks for money on his head.Elsewhere in the district, 12 miles from the capital of Dhaka, families lined up in knee-deep water as relief workers distributed bags of rice and other aid. A newborn was carried out of her family’s flooded home by her grandmother, who crept gingerly along a makeshift bamboo plank laid across the water.More than two weeks of monsoon rains across much of northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal have flooded rivers and submerged villages and farmland, killing at least 513 people and stranding 19 million more, officials said.Since the start of the monsoon in June, the government said more than 1,400 people have died in India alone.Thousands of people have come down with waterborne diseases. Bangladesh had 1,400 reported cases of diarrhea this week, said Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. Nearly 1,000 people have been treated for cholera and gastroenteritis in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, officials said. Villagers have been given chlorine tablets to purify drinking water.The World Food Program and UNICEF have been distributing emergency food supplies to thousands of people in Bangladesh and Nepal, said WFP spokesman Simon Pluess in Geneva. India has not requested any aid, he said.The Red Cross launched an appeal Thursday for $1.7 million to help those affected by flooding in southern Nepal, where 127,000 people have been displaced by floods and landslides and at least 26,500 houses have been damaged or destroyed.The Red Cross also said it would scale up its relief operations in Bangladesh, where millions of people remain in urgent need of food, clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, clothing and shelter.At least 303 people have died in India in the past two weeks. In Bangladesh, 165 people have drowned, 35 were killed by snake bites and 10 from flood-related illnesses. —Associated Press reporter Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India, R.K. Misra in Ahmadabad, India, and Parveen Ahmed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.