Growing floods toll hampers coronavirus efforts in South Asia

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The price from monsoon floods across South Asia has increased to quite 350 in recent weeks, with villages still submerged and tens of thousands displaced as authorities battle with rising coronavirus cases.

The torrential downpours across the densely populated region are critical to replenishing rivers and groundwater, but also cause widespread death and destruction.

In Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by rivers, 129 people have died from the floods and flood-related illnesses, officials said on Friday.

About one-third of the delta nation remains underwater. The floods have dragged on for a month in what authorities said was the worst inundation since 2004.

“The home is underwater, no food, not enough beverage ,” farmer Muzaffar Ali from northeastern Sunamganj district told the AFP press agency .

“In this example who cares about social distancing or wearing masks? I leave it to God. He will decide.”

Nepal has been badly hit by landslides and floods, with a minimum of 155 people killed and 57 missing since mid-June, consistent with the house ministry.

“The threat of COVID-19 adds challenges for our rescue and search teams,” Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre chief Murari Wasti told AFP.

The number of landslides has increased this year, with experts saying the big 2015 earthquake and more construction might be triggering the deadly slips.

“The earthquake… it loosens the world and heavy monsoon rains can cause disturbance. This year might be a cumulative effect,” geologist Basanta Raj Adhikari told AFP.

In India’s northeastern state of Assam, where a minimum of 50 people have died within the past 10 days, floodwaters were receding as officials scrambled to assist 1.5 million people whose homes and communities were damaged.

More than 37,000 villagers remain in relief camps and special attention was being given to health-related issues, Assam Disaster Management Authority coordinator Pankaj Chakrarvarty told AFP.

“It’s not always possible to take care of social distancing within the camps,” said one evacuee, Ranjit Rabha. “Thankfully, here in our camp, we do not have any COVID-19 positive residents.”

At Assam’s Kaziranga park , a World Heritage Site, 143 animals have died thus far , including 16 rare one-horned rhinos.

India’s Bihar faces twin threat
In India’s impoverished Bihar state, home to 125 million people, a minimum of 24 have died and a minimum of four million are suffering from heavy rains, with homes and villages damaged.

More than 300,000 people were evacuated to relief camps and officials warned of further cloudbursts within the next two days.

The eastern state, which features a fragile healthcare system, has recorded quite 48,000 COVID-19 infections and 282 virus-related deaths.

That is a far lower price than other densely populated states that are witnessing a pointy rise in cases, but with experts warning of multiple peaks in India, Bihar might be facing an uphill task to halt the virus.

“Unless the government acts on the lines of the New Delhi government where hotels were became extended hospitals and emphasis was laid on testing, things would transcend control,” said Dr Sunil Kumar, a senior health expert in Bihar

According to data compiled by John Hopkins University, India has thus far recorded nearly 1.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

Officials in Bihar fear the flooding could worsen the spread of the communicable disease .

“Reaching bent flood victims and providing them assistance is tough thanks to fear of the pandemic,” relief worker Mahendar Yadav said.

India’s cricket captain Virat Kolhi and his actress wife Anushka Sharma on Thursday pledged to support flood relief in Bihar and Assam.

Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who was born in Bihar, also promised to donate to relief efforts.

Flash floods in Afghanistan
Meanwhile, a minimum of 16 people, including 15 children aged between one and five years, and a lady were killed and dozens of homes destroyed as flash floods lashed a village in eastern Afghanistan, a politician said on Saturday.

Flooding caused by torrential rains struck a village in Nangarhar province late on Friday, district governor Naimatullah Noorzai told AFP press agency .

Four children were also injured and dozens of homes were destroyed, Noorzai said.

A relief operation was under thanks to help affected families, with the disaster striking because the country celebrates the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Summer often brings heavy rainfalls in eastern Afghanistan. Flash floods within the region often leave many people dead and lots of more injured per annum .

Source: aljazeera

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