South Asia floods: Millions in India and Bangladesh have been hit by torrential rains in the region

The South Asian nations, home to more than 1.3 billion people, have been hit particularly hard by the rains, causing some of the worst flooding in the region in years, as extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent due to the climate crisis.

In India, at least 48 people have died since June 14, after heavy rains hit the northeastern state of Assam, according to its disaster management authority, triggering landslides and causing river banks to swell. More than 5.5 million people have been affected in the state alone, the authority added.

Assam’s chief minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Tuesday visited one of the 1,687 relief camps housing more than 260,000 displaced people in the state.

“Our government will soon launch a portal where affected people can record their loss of livestock and other damage caused by floods,” he said. wrote on Twitter. “A flood package will also be announced soon.”

In the nearby state of Meghalaya, at least 25 people have died since June 9, 11 of whom are still missing and 22 more injured, according to government officials.

Video broadcasts on local television showed people in affected cities wading waist deep in muddy water, and streets were transformed into rivers, with vehicles submerged underwater.

Floods hit people queuing in knee-deep floodwaters to gather food aid after heavy monsoon rains in Sunamganj district of Bangladesh on June 21, 2022.

In neighboring Bangladesh, flood-related incidents, including electric shocks and landslides, have killed at least 22 people, according to officials.

As many as 4 million people, including 1.6 million children, have been stranded by the floods, according to UNICEF.

“Children need safe drinking water right now. Preventing deadly waterborne diseases is one of several critical concerns,” Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s representative in Bangladesh, said in a statement on Monday.

The rains have caused catastrophic floods in the northeastern Sylhet region, local officials said.

“The floods are the worst in 122 years in the Sylhet region,” Atiqul Haque, director general of Bangladesh’s disaster management department, told Reuters on Monday.

An aerial photo of a flooded area after heavy monsoon rains in Companiganj, Bangladesh on June 20, 2022.

Health facilities have been flooded in Sylhet while children were at increased risk of drowning, according to UNICEF.

More than 36,000 children have sought refuge in overcrowded shelters with their families, UNICEF said.

Schools have been forced to close and exams have been canceled, further affecting their education after months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, it added.

Extreme weather events in South Asia are becoming increasingly frequent due to the climate crisis, with temperatures in parts of India and Pakistan reaching record levels during a heat wave in April and May. Researchers said the climate crisis had made the possibility of a record-breaking heat wave hitting India and Pakistan “100 times more likely.”
A 2022 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said they had medium confidence that heat waves and humid stress would become more “intense and frequent” and that “annual and summer monsoon precipitation would increase.”

CNN’s Esha Mitra contributed reporting.

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