An overflowing river spilled into an Indian city of half a million people today, and Indian and Nepalese helicopters rushed supplies to thousands of stranded people as the death toll across South Asia from monsoon flooding rose to 294.
The fatalities were the result of building collapses, drownings, electrocution and waterborne diseases since the torrential rain began in mid-June across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
With more rain forecast over the next few days in Bangladesh and India’s northeast, the flooding was likely to worsen, relief officials said. The most deaths – 176 – have been in India.
Eight people were reported dead today in the East Champaran district of India’s eastern Bihar state when a boat ferrying them to safety across the Burhi Gandak River capsized, said Upendra Sharma, deputy secretary in the relief and rehabilitation department.
In neighbouring Assam state, where the Brahmaputra River overflowed its banks and poured into the capital, Gauhati, four more people were killed when a banana tree raft on which they were travelling to higher ground capsized near Hajo, 18 miles north of the capital.
“The Brahmaputra has entered Gauhati city at several places, displacing several hundred people,” said local administrator Absar Hazarika.
Assam authorities have asked the Red Cross for food, clothes, tents, drinking water and mosquito nets. They have also requested doctors, nurses and medicine.
At least five million people have been displaced or marooned in their homes in Assam, and Indian air force helicopters where dropping supplies to some of those stranded, the government said.
In neighbouring Bangladesh, the rain has engulfed 25 of its 64 districts since late June, stranding more than three million people in their flooded homes and killing 55, most of them children who drowned.
In Pakistan, five people have been killed by collapsing homes or roofs in Mardan district in the country’s northwest.
Rescue workers made the most of improving weather in Nepal and used army helicopters to rush emergency supplies to thousands of people left homeless by monsoon flooding in the country’s south.
Reports reaching the capital from outlying areas added to Nepal’s death toll, which reached 58 on today. Ten more people drowned and two were buried under landslides on Monday and Tuesday south of the capital, Katmandu, officials said.