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 floods, become more common in South Asia.
Officials claim that more than 60 people were killed by flooding, landslides, and thunderstorms. Many people are without food or water, and they have cut off access to the internet for them.
The devastation in India’s northeast, one of the worst affected regions, has submerged railway tracks, bridges and roads. Officials in Assam said that flooding has affected 31 of 33 districts, affecting the lives of more 700,000 people. According to news reports, at least 18 people have died in the state from floods and landslides.
Lightning strikes and heavy rains in 16 districts in Bihar, a neighboring state, resulted in at least 33 deaths. Nitish KumarThe chief minister said Friday.
Scientists from climate science have indicated that India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are particularly vulnerable to climate changes due to their proximity and exposure to the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. These waters are increasingly experiencing heat waves. The 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 a study published in January by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.
On Sunday, India’s meteorological department warned 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 inundated vast areas of agricultural land, villages and towns over the past couple of weeks.
The floodwaters of Brahmaputra and other river waters have arrived in Bangladesh, which is a low-lying country of around 170 million inhabitants. In Bangladesh, where extreme rainfall and land slides washed away a sprawling Rohingya refugee camps last year, there has been a lot of destruction. In 2020, at least 25% of the country was submerged by torrential rains.
About two million people have been affected in the Sylhet region, in the country’s east, in what officials describe as one of the worst floods in many years.
“We haven’t seen such a widespread flood in Sylhet for around two decades,” S.M. Shahidul Islam, chief engineer at the Bangladesh Water Development Board, stated on Sunday.
“Heavy rainfall and increased flow of floodwater through the Surma River is the main reason for this situation,” said Mr. Islam, explaining that dams in the area are unable to hold the floodwaters that have started pouring into cities.
Officials confirmed that at least 10 people died in the region. Most of them drowned after their boats capsized while trying to move to safer places. “We still are working to see if there are more casualties,” said Mosharraf Hossain, the top official in Sylhet region.
Officials say that floods have made it difficult to assist those in need. However, millions of people have been left without a home due to the devastation.
“The flood situation is terrible in our village in Zakiganj,” said Mahmudul Hasan, 29, who was taking shelter with six family members in Sylhet.
Mr. Hasan stated that the family has not received food or water. He said that he was always worried about his house. “Our house is made of mud,” he explained.
Nearly 600 schools and colleges have been closed by the government of Bangladesh indefinitely to provide shelter for people who don’t have anywhere else. Officials claim that the flooding has destroyed at least 3,000 hectares rice paddy fields, which could have an impact on the livelihoods for thousands of farmers.
Karan Deep SinghReport from New Delhi, India. Saif HasnatReporting from Dhaka (Bangladesh).
Source: NY Times