Monday, August 18, 2008

South Asia monsoon rains kill 147 as thousands rescued

From: Reuters

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - Heavy monsoon rains have triggered floods across South Asia in which 147 people have been killed in the past week as the downpours swamped villages and caused landslides, officials said on Monday.

Most of the deaths were due to house collapses triggered by incessant rains in India and Bangladesh. Thousands more have been evacuated across the region after their homes were flooded.

In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of old buildings collapsed, killing 73 people in the past two days, officials said.

"The victims were all very poor people, living in old and dilapidated buildings," said senior government official Balwinder Kumar. "So far we have received reports about the partial or full collapse of as many as 890 houses."

More rain was forecast in the next 48 hours and authorities fear the crisis could worsen.

More than 60 people were killed in flooding in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh, with tens of thousands more moved to safety in makeshift camps.

In neighboring Bangladesh, at least 14 people were killed, a dozen injured and 10 others feared trapped under the rubble of collapsed houses in landslides in the port city of Chittagong and the coastal town of Cox's Bazar on Monday, officials said.

Every year monsoon rains leave a trail of death and destruction across South Asia, but much of the economy in a largely agricultural region depends on the downpours.

In the Himalayan nation of Nepal, thousands of villagers were moved to safety on Monday after a river in the southeast breached a dam and inundated huge swathes of crop land, police said.

More than 4,000 people from three villages had already been moved to safety in Nepal's Sunsari district after the Koshi river broke an embankment, police official Yadav Khanal said.

"The situation is getting worse and dangerous," Khanal said.

"No one has been killed so far but flood waters have submerged parts of a highway."

Sunsari lies in Nepal's southern plains about 200 km (125 miles) southeast of Kathmandu.

(Additional reporting by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu, Serajul Islam Quadir and Nazimuddin Shyamol in Chittagong; Writing by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Paul Tait)

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