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South Asia swept by monsoon floods

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Over 150 people have died and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless by monsoon season floods and landslides in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Reports reaching the Nepal Red Cross headquarters indicate that 30 people have died so far in 16 affected districts. Seventy people have perished in Bangladesh in a spate of landslides, considered among the worst in recent memory. In India, the monsoon rains are responsible for at least 60 deaths, mainly in the flood-prone states of Assam, Tripura and Bihar. Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in the three countries have been among the first to respond. In Assam and Bihar, Red Cross volunteers, many of them trained in community based disaster preparedness, have been using local boats and rafts to rescue stranded people, and setting up relief camps in a number of locations where evacuees are being provided with cooked food and safe drinking water. The national headquarters of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has dispatched 900 family kits, 3,700 kg of lentils, and 900 kg of high protein biscuits to affected families in the districts of Chittagong, Khagrachori and Feni. Bangladesh's Flood Forecasting Warning Centre warns that the situation could deteriorate in the next two weeks. The situation in the remote Chittagong Hill Tracts has been exacerbated by the deforestation and shifting cultivation practised in the region. The floods are threatening the food security of affected populations because of extensive damage to agricultural land. They are also increasing the risk of water-borne and water-related diseases.