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Toll rises as monsoon sweeps across S.E. Asia

The death toll rose Tusday in South East Asia where overflowing rivers, snakebites and landslides have killed dozens of people and forced millions from their homes in the worst monsoon flooding in years.
Indian villagers wade with their belongings through a flooded area of Balarampur, in Cooch Behar district 180 miles north of Siliguri city on Tuesday.Stringer/india / REUTERS
/ Source: The Associated Press

An overflowing river swamped dozens of villages in Bangladesh, killing 18 people and leaving 6,000 homeless, while a family drowned in India as monsoon rains swept across South Asia, officials and news reports said Tuesday.

Since the seasonal flooding began in June, at least 270 people have died in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan from waterborne diseases, electrocution, collapsed buildings and drowning. The worst affected have been people living in mud houses.

Monsoon rains have engulfed 25 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts since late last month, stranding more than 3 million people in their flooded homes. The floods have killed 44 people in the delta nation.

Flood affected villagers smile after receiving bread brought in by a helicopter at Hajo, in the northeastern state of Assam, July 13, 2004. Annual monsoon flooding in India has killed more than 100 people since the first week of July and left millions displaced from their homes or marooned in flood-hit areas in the country's low-lying eastern areas. REUTERS/Kamal KishoreKamal Kishore / X00146

On Tuesday, at least 10 people, including a mother and her young son, died in the hard-hit northern districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj and Sirajganj, United News of Bangladesh reported.

In the same northern region eight people — mostly children — drowned Monday, said Dhaka’s Sangbad newspaper.

In India’s eastern Bihar state, residents on opposite banks of the Burhi Gandak River in East Champaran District exchanged gunshots to prevent one other from slicing off chunks of the embankment, which could divert water to the opposite village, Vinai Kumar, the local administrator, told The Associated Press.

No one was injured in the weekend gunbattle involving residents of Maure and Rasulganj villages, 80 miles north of Patna, the capital of Bihar, Kumar said.

Two more flood-related deaths were reported from Bihar on Tuesday, raising the state’s flood death toll to 60. In northeastern Assam state, a family of four drowned after their boat capsized in flood waters Monday while moving to higher ground. That put the state’s flood toll at 39 since June.

Getting worse?
Authorities in Assam have asked the Red Cross for food, clothes, tents, drinking water and mosquito nets to help more than 2 million victims in 18 of the state’s 24 districts. They have also requested doctors, nurses, and medicine.

The floods in India have killed a total of 164 people — 39 in Assam, 60 in Bihar, 45 in Kerala, 17 in Uttar Pradesh and three in Tripura.

In Pakistan, five people were killed by collapsing homes or roofs in Mardan District in the country’s northwest, said Shams-ul Haq, a local government official. About 50 others were injured late Sunday in several villages in Mardan, near Islamabad.

Bangladesh’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Center said the flooding there was likely to worsen “in the next few days” as heavy rains continue and flood waters from neighboring India reach Bangladesh.

Bangladesh sits in the basins of the region’s largest rivers, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Jamuna, which originate in the Himalayas and run through India before draining out into the Bay of Bengal.