At least 18 people have died in massive flooding that swept across northeast India and Bangladesh, leaving millions of homes under water and severing transport links, authorities said on Saturday.
In the Indian state of Assam, at least nine people were killed in the floods and 2 million saw their homes submerged, according to the state disaster management agency.
Meanwhile, lightning strikes in parts of neighboring Bangladesh killed nine people on Friday.
At least 34 dead amid heavy rains in northern India as floods overwhelm the country
Both countries have called in their militaries for help as more flooding looms and the rains are expected to continue into the weekend.
The Brahmaputra, one of Asia’s largest rivers, has burst its mud dams and flooded 3,000 villages and farmlands in 28 of Assam’s 33 districts.
“We expect moderate to heavy rain in various parts of Assam until Sunday. The volume of rain is unprecedented,” said Sanjay O’Neil, an official at the meteorological station in Gauhati, the capital of Assam.
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Several train services have been canceled in India amid the non-stop downpour of the past five days. In the city of Haflong in southern Assam, the railway station was under water and flooded rivers deposited mud and sediment along the railway tracks.
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The Indian military has been mobilized to help disaster response agencies rescue stranded people and provide food and other essential items. The soldiers used speedboats and inflatable rafts to navigate the submerged areas.
In Bangladesh, the districts near the border with India have been the most affected.
Water levels in all the country’s major rivers were rising, according to the flood warning and forecast center in Dhaka, the capital. The country has around 130 rivers.
The center said the flood situation is likely to deteriorate in the hardest-hit districts of Sunamganj and Sylhet in the northeastern region, as well as in Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Nilphamari and Rangpur districts in northern Bangladesh.
Flight operations at Osmani International Airport in Sylhet were suspended for three days as floodwaters almost reached the runway, according to Hafiz Ahmed, the airport manager.
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Last month, a pre-monsoon flash flood, triggered by a rush of water upriver in India’s northeastern states, hit the northern and northeastern regions of Bangladesh, destroying crops and damaging houses and roads. The country was beginning to recover when fresh rains flooded the same areas again this week.
Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, is low-lying and faces threats from natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, made worse by climate change. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, approximately 17% of the people in Bangladesh would have to be relocated over the next decade if global warming persists at the current rate.
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