© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A boy walks through a flooded area during a widespread flood in the northeastern part of the country, in Sylhet, Bangladesh, June 19, 2022. REUTERS / Stringer
From Ruma Paul and Zarir Hussein
Dhaka / Guwahati, India (Reuters) – Authorities in flood-hit Bangladesh and northeastern India battled Monday to help more than nine million people left behind by the worst rains in years to kill at least 54 people. the two South Asian countries, officials said.
Monsoon rains in lowland Bangladesh have caused catastrophic floods in the northeastern administrative district of Sylhet, leaving a quarter of its 15 million population stranded amid rising waters and swollen rivers.
“The floods are the worst in 122 years in the Sylhet area,” said Atikul Hake, director general of Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Division.
The situation in Sylhet has been exacerbated by waters cascading from the surrounding hills of the Indian state of Meghalaya, including some of the world’s wettest areas such as Mausinram and Cherapunji, each of which received more than 970 mm (38 inches) of rain on Sunday. , according to government figures.
Some 300,000 people have been relocated to shelters in Sylhet, but more than four million people have been stranded near their flooded homes, complicating challenges for authorities to provide aid, including drinking water and medical supplies.
“The situation is still worrying,” Mohammad Mosharaf Hossein, chief administrator of the Sylhet division, told Reuters by telephone.
“We are stepping up our efforts to provide support materials. The main challenge right now is to reach out to everyone and ensure that drinking water is available.”
Khalilur Rahman, a resident of the Sunamganj district of Sylhet, said floods had flooded the ground floor of his two-story house and locals were using boats to move around the area.
“I have never seen such floods in my life,” Rahman, 43, told Reuters by telephone, adding that there had been no electricity since heavy rains began Thursday night. “Dry food is running out, there is no drinking water.
In the neighboring Indian state of Assam, where at least 26 people have died since the onset of torrential rains about two weeks ago, floods have begun to recede, authorities said.
But 4.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes, leaving some 220,000 in makeshift government-run shelters. Over a million hectares of agricultural land are flooded.
“The overall flood situation is improving,” Assam’s Minister of Water Resources Pidush Khazarika told Reuters.
“Now the biggest challenge is to reach out to displaced people and provide them with support materials.”
South Asia’s neighbors have been experiencing increasing extreme weather in recent years, causing extensive damage, and environmentalists warn that climate change could lead to more disasters, especially in Bangladesh’s densely populated population.