Bangladesh + 2 more

South Asia's poor battle cold snap, toll 1,443

NEW DELHI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - South Asia's worst winter in decades claimed 43 more lives overnight, taking the death toll to 1,443 as the region's homeless fight to survive near-freezing temperatures.

The cold spell in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh since Christmas has also disrupted road, rail and air traffic across the region and closed schools, and weather officials see no let up for at least a few more days.

Officials in India's most populous and worst-hit state, Uttar Pradesh, said on Tuesday 37 people died overnight.

"God has been rather unkind to people like me who have to bear the brunt of the cold under the open skies," said Sham Lal, a cycle rickshaw rider in the state capital, Lucknow.

So far, 707 have died in Uttar Pradesh, where the temperature in the state's industrial hub, Kanpur, plunged to a record zero degrees Celcius (32 Fahrenheit) on Monday night.

"Freezing conditions will continue over the next 48 hours," Uttar Pradesh weather department chief R. K. Verma told Reuters.

Although temperatures in South Asia do not fall as low as in North America and Europe, people have been hit harder because millions in the region live on pavements or in makeshift shacks and help and shelters are almost non-existent.

No new deaths were reported in Bangladesh, where the cold has killed 530 people, according to newspaper reports.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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