Millions homeless and dozens dead as heavy rains hit India and Bangladesh

Heavy pre-monsoon rains in India and Bangladesh have washed away stations, towns and villages, leaving millions homeless as extreme weather events, including heat waves, intense rains and floods, become more common in South Asia.

More than 60 people have been killed in the two countries in days of floods, landslides and thunderstorms that left many without food or clean water and isolated them by shutting down the internet, officials said. The devastation in northeast India, one of the hardest hit regions, has overwhelmed railways, bridges and roads. In the remote state of Assam, 31 of its 33 districts have been hit by floods, impacting the lives of more than 700,000 people, officials said on Saturday. At least 18 people have died in the state due to flooding and landslides, according to news reports.

At least 33 people have been killed in neighboring Bihar state by lightning strikes and heavy rain across its 16 districts, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said on Friday. Climatologists have said India and Bangladesh are vulnerable to climate change due to their proximity to the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, which are experiencing increasing heat waves. Rising sea temperatures have led to “significant increases in rainfall” in some areas, according to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

On Sunday, the Indian Meteorological Service warned of “thunderstorms with lightning and very heavy rain” in many parts of the northeast where the Brahmaputra River flooded large swaths of farmland, villages and towns in the over the past two weeks.

Floodwaters have come with fury to Bangladesh, a low-lying nation of around 170 million people. About 2 million people were affected in the Sylhet region in the east of the country, officials said. “We haven’t seen such a flood in Sylhet for about two decades,” said SM Shahidul Islam, chief engineer of the Bangladesh Water Development Board. At least 10 people were killed in the area, officials said. “We are still working to see if there are more casualties,” said Mosharraf Hossain, the region’s top official. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times

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