24 million affected by South Asia floods: Red Cross

Nepali flood victims cross flood waters in Gaur, in Rautahat District some 200km south of the capital Katmandu, on August 17, 2017. (File Photo by AFP)
Updated 22 August 2017
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24 million affected by South Asia floods: Red Cross

GENEVA: More than 24 million people have been affected by some of the worst flooding to hit South Asia in decades, with large areas of land submerged in water, the Red Cross Tuesday.
Authorities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have put the death toll at more than 750 since August 10, when a series of deluges began spreading with the annual monsoon season.
“The situation is going from bad to worse,” Red Cross under secretary-general Jagan Chapagain said in a statement, confirming the death toll given by regional authorities.
“Almost one third of Nepal has been flooded. One third of Bangladesh is flooded,” he told reporters.
“This is the worst flooding that parts of South Asia have seen in decades.”
Flood waters in the three countries have left hundreds of people stranded and entire communities cut off from road access, according to the Red Cross.
Many villages are now only accessible by boat and “are running out of food” with clean water also in short supply, the organization added.
“The number of people affected is rising by the hour as waters rush south,” Chapagain said.
He added the devastating flooding has been triggered in part by the monsoons but is “also a result of the lack of proper water management,” in all three countries.
The organization has launched a 3.5 million Swiss francs ($3.6 million, 3.1 million euros) international appeal to help authorities in Nepal.
Chapagain said a similar global appeal to help Bangladesh deal with the disaster could be launched soon, while India is seen as having the resources needed to respond without foreign help.
The heavy rain has also taken a toll on wildlife, with rescue teams pulling stranded animals from raging waters in India’s Kaziranga National Park, including rare one-horned rhinos and other endangered species.


Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

Updated 17 min ago
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Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

  • The Gomez family gather for funeral of a husband and wife and their three sons
  • They were brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine

COLOMBO: The dark wooden coffins, sitting side by side, attested to one family’s unspeakable grief.
The Gomez family gathered Tuesday to say a final farewell to five loved ones — a son, a daughter-in-law and three young grandsons — brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” said Joseph Gomez, the family patriarch, as tears welled in his eyes. Dozens of family members and neighbors were gathered in his simple home, where the sound of hymns sung by mourners gently wafted in the background and candles flickered beside three coffins. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Across Sri Lanka, Tuesday was a national day of mourning as families began to lay to rest the more than 320 victims of the bomb blasts that struck a half-dozen churches and hotels in the island nation.
For the Gomez family, the loss was unfathomable: A 33-year-old son, Berlington Joseph, the young man’s 31-year-old wife Chandrika Arumugam, and their three boys, 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, who would have turned 1 next week. A funeral card with a photo of the family clutched in his hands, the elder Gomez wailed: “I can’t bear this on me, I can’t bear this.”
“My eldest son, my eldest son,” he sobbed as he laid bouquets of red roses and brightly colored daisies on the largest coffin. Next to it was a tiny coffin, a photo of little Avon tucked into a wooden frame nearby.
The coffins, draped with long white tassels, were then carried to a Colombo cemetery and lowered into side-by-side graves.
At St. Joseph’s Shrine, dozens of mourners gathered outside, lighting candles and praying in unison for the victims of Sunday’s blasts as heavily armed soldiers stood guard.
At St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a funeral service was held Tuesday for victims killed there as they worshipped, led by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith. The church was heavily guarded by hundreds of army, air force and police troops, and soldiers were deployed every 15 feet along the streets of the city some 20 miles north of Colombo.
Throughout the country, people observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the near-simultaneous attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, and three other related blasts, the deadliest violence to strike Sri Lanka in a decade.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known local extremist group, and on Tuesday, the Daesh group also claimed responsibility, though it provided no proof it was involved and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.