DHAKA (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh have been marooned and thousands of hectares of farmland submerged, officials said on Wednesday, as floods triggered by monsoon rains ravage the country already grappling with the coronavirus.
Officials said the flooding in Bangladesh was made worse by heavy rains in the neighbouring Indian state of Assam. Millions have been forced to flee their homes in Assam after the Brahmaputra river that flows from Tibet into India and then into Bangladesh burst its banks in Assam over the weekend here, inundating more than 2,000 villages.
“Rainfalls and runoff from northern India have caused some of the rivers across Bangladesh to rise over 70 cm (30 inches) above dangerous levels,” said Jyoti Prasad Ghosh, an official at the Bangladesh Water Development Board. “The floods could worsen further in the coming days if rains continue in Assam.”
One disaster management official in Bangladesh who declined to be named said the crisis was expected to worsen in the coming days and more than 200,000 people marooned are at risk.
“The disaster is worsening by the hour, with several hundred thousands already severely affected by the floods, worsening the COVID pandemic and crisis in the country,” said Antony Balmain, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Bangladesh had 149,258 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, with 1,888 deaths.
The floods threaten about 4.1 million people, Balmain said. “Around 16,500 people most at risk are being assisted immediately with evacuation, and while thousands more will be helped in the coming days.”
The double whammy is pushing many to the brink.
In Bangladesh’s northern district of Jamalpur, farmer Mohammad Manik had been earning a living selling vegetables. He said he had to stop that due to the coronavirus lockdown.
“Now all my vegetables are under the floodwater.” Manik told Reuters. “I don’t know how to survive anymore. It’s one disaster after another.”
Reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Writing by Zeba Siddiqui; Editing by Giles Elgood
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