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Monsoon season 2019: 2 million in danger as floods ravage India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Villagers use a makeshift raft to cross a flooded area on the outskirts of Agartala
Villagers use a makeshift raft to cross a flooded area on the outskirts of Agartala, India, July 15, 2019. REUTERS

Patna, India -- After causing flooding and landslides in Nepal, three rivers are overflowing in northeastern India and submerging parts of the region, killing at least 14 people and affecting the lives of more than 2 million, officials said Monday. Pratata Amrit, a government official, said about 200,000 people left their flooded village homes in Bihar state, with 50,000 taking shelter in 152 state-run relief camps.

In remote northeastern India, 17 others were killed by flooding and mudslides and more than 2 million were affected by flooding in Assam and other states in the past four days, officials said.

Nearly 80% of Assam's Kaziranga National Park, home to the endangered one-horn rhinoceros, has been flooded by the mighty Brahmaputra river, which flows along the sanctuary, forest officer Jutika Borah said.

Six deer trying to move to higher ground were killed by speeding vehicles on a highway crossing the park, Borah said. Forest guards have been posted on the highway to provide a corridor for the animals.

Dozens killed in Nepal

Officials in Nepal said flooding and landslides killed at least 67 people there. They said 30 others are missing, either swept away by swollen rivers or buried by mudslides since monsoon rains began pounding the region on Friday.

The National Emergency Operation Center said 14 highways across the nation were blocked by floods or mudslides and attempts were being made to clear the debris and open them for traffic.

Disaster on top of tragedy

In Bangladesh, at least a dozen people, mostly farmers, were killed by lightning since Saturday as monsoon rains battered parts of the low-lying country.

Bangladesh, with 160 million people and more than 130 rivers, is prone to monsoon floods because of overflowing rivers and the heavy onrush of water from upstream India. The low-lying nation is also one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which is slowly driving up sea levels.

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Bangladeshi drivers make their way through heavy rainfall at a water-logged street during the monsoon season in Dhaka on July 12, 2019. Getty

Earlier this month United Nations children's agency UNICEF warned that thousands of families living in vast refugee camps for displaced Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar were at risk from flooding and landslides caused by heavy rainfall. The situation is particularly grim in the camps. Thousands of families were relocated to safer areas, but the sheer size of the camps -- home to many tens of thousands of refugees -- left a daunting challenge.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, or IFRC, said last week that the heavy rains had triggered landslides in camps in Cox's Bazar, prompting the agency to organize response operations in seven camps where more than 8,500 people had been affected and over 1,800 shelters were damaged or destroyed.

Future uncertain for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar

It warned that the situation could get worse as the World Meteorological Organization has forecast that in July, Bangladesh will be hit by the highest amount of rainfall for all of 2019, with more than 730mm of rain (about 29 inches) expected over an average of 22 days.

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