New Delhi — At least 114 people have been killed by floods, lightning strikes and landslides in Bangladesh and northeastern India in the past week as heavy monsoon rains have flooded dozens of districts in the two countries.
The deadly flooding, one of the worst to hit the region in several decades, comes nearly two years after similar floods
The deluge has brought down mobile phone towers and power lines and washed away roads and bridges, making relief and rescue work difficult.
"We have evacuated more than 300,000 people who were marooned," said Mosharraf Hossain, a government official in the Sylhet region. "Many of them have lost their houses made of tin and bamboo."
The death toll in the Indian northeastern state of Assam increased to 82, with 11 more deaths on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, the number of deaths has risen to 32.
At least 4.8 million people have been affected by the floods across the mountainous state of Assam's 32 districts. Teams of military, federal and state disaster management authorities have evacuated more than 231,000 people from the low-lying areas and put them up in over 1,000 makeshift relief camps.
The cost of the floods is similar in Bangladesh, where flooding has affected nearly 6 million people, according to local media reports. Sylhet, Sunamganj, and Netrokona districts in the north of the country are the hardest-hit where roads and highways are submerged, cutting them off almost entirely from the rest of the country. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas and asked her administration to drop food packets in inaccessible areas.
Weather forecasters have warned of more heavy rainfall in the Himalayan region that could further overflow the rivers in the region, exacerbating the flooding.
UNICEF is seeking $2.5 million fund to respond to the emergency in Bangladesh, saying in a statement that, "four million people, including 1.6 million children, stranded by flash floods … are in urgent need of help."
"UNICEF has already dispatched 400,000 water purification tablets that can support 80,000 households with clean water for a week," the statement read.
Floods are common in northeastern India and parts of Bangladesh — situated at the foothills of Himalayas — where monsoons bring heavy rains between June and October, swelling rivers that often burst their banks.
But environmentalists say climate change is making extreme weather events like flooding and heat waves across South Asia, more frequent, intense and unpredictable.
Just last month, while a huge swath of India reeled under a, north-eastern parts of the country — Assam and Arunachal Pradesh — that killed dozens and damaged fields of crops. And the monsoon had not even arrived.
Experts say there is a strong link between climate change and the early monsoon. A warmer climate has influenced the weather patterns and increased the timing and amount of rainfall.
"Studies have shown that the Himalayan region's rainfall patterns have been changing, leading to unpredictable weather," Anjal Prakash, a climate scientist and lead researcher with the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told CBS News. "Due to climate change, a wetter climate has been predicted for the region."
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