59 dead, millions stranded as floods hit Bangladesh, India

Monsoon storms in Bangladesh and India have killed at least 59 people and unleashed devastating floods that left millions of others stranded, officials said Saturday.

Floods are a regular menace to millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh, but experts say climate change is increasing their frequency, ferocity and unpredictability.

Schools have been turned into relief shelters to house entire villages inundated in a matter of hours by rivers that suddenly burst their banks.

“After waiting a whole day on the roof of our home, a neighbor rescued us with a makeshift boat. My mother said she has never seen such floods in her entire life,” the 23-year-old added.

“The water rose so quickly we couldn’t bring any of our things,” she said. “And how can you cook anything when everything is underwater?”

Among them were three children aged between 12 and 14 who were struck by lightning on Friday in the rural town of Nandail, said local police chief Mizanur Rahman.

At least 16 people have been killed since Thursday in India’s remote Meghalaya, the state’s chief minister Conrad Sangma wrote on Twitter, after landslides and surging rivers that submerged roads.

Eighteen people had died in flood waters or landslides around the state since Thursday, the agency reported, with nearly 7,500 people rescued on Saturday by mid-afternoon.

– ‘The situation is bad’ –

“The situation is bad. More than four million people have been stranded by flood water,” Hossain said, adding that nearly the entire region was without electricity.

Around the regional capital, residents waded through waist-deep water along roads next to partially submerged stuck vehicles.

Before this week’s rains, the Sylhet region was still recovering from its worst floods in nearly two decades late last month, when at least 10 people were killed and four million others were affected.

Originally published as 59 dead, millions stranded as floods hit Bangladesh, India

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