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Millions Displaced and Dozens Dead in Flooding in India and Bangladesh

NEW DELHI — Heavy pre-monsoon rains in India and Bangladesh have washed away train stations, towns and villages, leaving millions of people homeless as extreme weather events, including heat waves, intense rainfall and flooding, become more common in South Asia.

More than 60 people have died, officials said in days of flooding, landslides and thunderstorms that left many people without food and drinking water and isolated them by shutting down the internet.

The devastation in northeastern India, one of the hardest hit regions, has left railway lines, bridges and roads under water. In the remote state of Assam, 31 of 33 districts have been hit by flooding, affecting the lives of more than 700,000 people, officials said on Saturday. At least 18 people have already died in floods and landslides, the state says news reports

In the neighboring state of Bihar, at least 33 people have been killed by lightning and heavy rain in 16 districts, Nitish Kumarasaid the prime minister on Friday.

Climate scientists have said that India and Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of their proximity to the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, which increasingly suffering from heat waves† Rising sea temperatures have led to “dry conditions” in some parts of the Indian subcontinent and “a significant increase in rainfall” in other areas, according to an investigation published in January by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.

India’s Meteorological Service warned on Sunday of “thunderstorms with lightning and very heavy rainfall” in many parts of the country’s remote northeast, where the Brahmaputra, one of the world’s largest rivers, has historically covered vast farmland, towns and cities. flooded. a couple of weeks.

Floods from Brahmaputra and other rivers have furiously arrived in Bangladesh, a low-lying country of about 170 million people, where extreme rainfall and landslides last year washed away a sprawling Rohingya refugee camp. In 2020 torrential rains submerged at least a quarter of the country.

About two million people have been affected in the Sylhet region, in the east of the country, by what officials describe as one of the worst floods in many years.

“We haven’t seen such widespread flooding in Sylhet in 20 years,” SM Shahidul Islam, chief engineer of the Bangladesh Water Development Board, said on Sunday.

“Heavy rainfall and increased flood water flow through the Surma River is the main reason for this situation,” said Mr. Islam, who explained that dams in the area cannot stop the flood waters flowing into the cities.

At least 10 people have died in the region, most drowned after their boats capsized while trying to move to safer areas, officials said Sunday. “We are still trying to see if there are more victims,” ​​said Mosharraf Hossain, the top official in the Sylhet region.

Roads closed by flooding have made relief efforts a challenge, officials say. But the destruction left millions of people with nothing.

“The flooding situation is terrible in our village in Zakiganj,” said Mahmudul Hasan, 29, who sought shelter in Sylhet with six family members.

The family has not been given any food or water, Mr Hasan said. And he said he was constantly worried about his house. “Our house is made of mud,” he explained.

The government of Bangladesh has indefinitely closed nearly 600 schools and colleges to use them as shelters for those with nowhere to go. At least 3,000 hectares of rice fields have been consumed by the floods, which are expected to affect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers, officials said.

Karan Deep Singh reported from New Delhi, and Saif Hasnat from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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