Flooding deaths in Bangladesh and India approach 1,500
Officials in Bangladesh said 60,000 people were ill and many more cut off from emergency aid in towns and villages around the country. Receding waters were expected to expose more bodies than the official count of 730.
"We have run out of water purifying tablets because the demand is so high,'' said Health Minister Mosharraf Hossain. We have asked local drug manufacturing companies to start emergency production of the tablets.''
Health workers at the internationally funded Cholera Hospital in Dhaka said they were swamped by patients suffering from diarrhoea and cholera, and that the crowd was increasing daily.
New Delhi government officials put Indian deaths at more than 720, but aid workers said the count was conservative, as there was little information from remote areas.
Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi was flown over flood-ravaged areas in the states of Assam and Meghalaya, and said she was shocked by the devastation.
"This is one of the worst devastations in recent times. I will try to convince our government to extend more help for the state. It will take a long time to cope with the devastation,'' Gandhi told the UNI news agency.
Nearly half of Assam's population has been displaced, most forced to find shelter on small islands of dry land. There are about 10 million homeless people, with an estimated 88,000 homes damaged.
In Bihar, the government said an estimated 100,000 houses were destroyed, leaving millions searching for space on any dry land they could find. Others huddled together under plastic sheets, their only shelter from the rain.
Many of the displaced are vulnerable to snake bites as they wade through waist-high, muddy water in search of shelter. U.N. officials said a major concern was the lack of clean drinking water.
To the east in Bangladesh, initial estimates put crop and property losses from the worst flooding since 1988 at 7 billion dollars, a heavy loss for a country where 40 per cent of its population of 130 million live in abject poverty.
About 30 million Bangladeshis were displaced by the floods that submerged more than 24,000 square kilometres. About 3 million homes were destroyed and 49,000 kilometres of roads damaged,the Disaster Management Office said.
Unusually heavy rains accompanied the start of the monsoon season and led to the flooding that began around three weeks ago. Monsoon season usually lasts until mid-October.
In the Bangladeshi capital, streets became canals as nearly one third of the Dhaka's 10 million residents were forced to leave seek refuge in flood shelters.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a special task force six months to find a solution to the recurring flood problem in the northeast.
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