Floods force millions to flee homes in South Asia

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A man looks out of the window of his partially submerged home in flood-hit Kahchin, Myanmar. (Reuters)
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Flood affected villagers row near a submerged house in the flood water in Burha Burhi village east of Gauhati India, Monday, July 15, 2019. (AP)
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Villagers travel on a boat in the flood affected Jhargaon village in Morigaon district of India's Assam state on July 15, 2019. (AFP)
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A member of Nepalese army carrying a child walks along the flooded colony in Kathmandu, Nepal July 12, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 16 July 2019

Floods force millions to flee homes in South Asia

  • Death toll in Nepal and Bangladesh rises to 76 after days of heavy rains

GUWAHATI, India/Katmandu, Nepal : Floods have forced more than four million people from their homes across India, Nepal and Bangladesh and killed more than 100 people as torrential rains in the initial days of monsoons wreaked havoc.
The poor Indian states of Assam and Bihar have been among the worst hit. Some 4.3 million people have been displaced from their homes in Assam in the last 10 days due to rising waters across the mostly rural northeastern region, according to a government release on Monday.
Television channels showed roads and railway lines in Bihar submerged, with people wading through chest-high, churning brown waters, carrying their belongings on their heads.
Floods in South Asia cause mass displacement and deaths annually, and the death toll and damage from the current monsoon season, which has just begun, is likely to increase in coming weeks. Floods in Nepal, India and Bangladesh during the 2017 monsoon https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-floods/floods-landslides-kill-m... killed at least 800 people and destroyed food crops and homes.
An impoverished agrarian province with rickety infrastructure and poor health care services, Bihar has a history of flooding in its northern areas bordering Nepal.
Flood waters in Assam rose overnight with the Brahmaputra River, which flows down from the Himalayas into Bangladesh, and its tributaries still in spate. Most of the Kaziranga National Park, home to the rare one-horned rhino, was underwater, authorities in Assam said, adding that four people drowned on Monday.
“The flood situation has turned very critical with 31 of the 32 districts affected,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told reporters. “We are working on a war footing to deal with the flood situation.”

We are working on a war footing to deal with the flood situation

             Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief minister of Assam

Assam, known for its tea industry, is hit by seasonal flooding each year, and the state and federal governments have spent millions of rupees on flood control.
Army and paramilitary personnel have been deployed across the state for rescue and relief operations and makeshift shelter camps have been set up, while the airforce is on standby, Keshab Mahanta, Assam’s water resources minister, told Reuters.
The Indian weather office has forecast widespread rains across Assam and Bihar over the next two days.

LANDSLIDES SWEEP HOMES AWAY
In neighboring Nepal, 64 people were killed and 31 were missing, with around a third of all districts hit by heavy rains, authorities said. Many of the deaths were caused by landslides that swept away houses.
In southeast Nepal, water levels on the Kosi River, which flows into Bihar, had receded, an district official said.
In 2008, the Kosi broke its banks and changed course, inundating huge tracts of land and killing 500 people.
“Our analysis is that the danger is over now that the water level has come down,” Chiranjibi Giri, assistant district administrator of Sunsari district, told Reuters.
In Bangladesh, floods forced an estimated 190,000 people out of their homes, government officials said.
In Cox’s Bazar district, shelter to some 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violence in neighboring Myanmar, more than 100,000 people have been displaced.
Since early July, flooding and landslides have damaged thousands of shelters at the refugee camps, killing two people, including a child, Human Rights Watch said in a release last week. 


Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

Updated 13 min 24 sec ago

Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

  • Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes
HONG KONG: Hong Kong residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions Thursday as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks while police skirmished with militant students at major universities.

Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. None of the officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.

Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.

The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. “For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances,” a statement said.

The Education Bureau extended the suspension of classes for kindergarten to high school students until Monday. It ordered schools to remain open, though, to handle children whose parents need to send them to school.

At Polytechnic University, protesters shot an arrow at officers patrolling nearby, then threw flower pots from a height when other officers arrived. Police responded with tear gas, and protesters fired more arrows.

Protesters have hurled gasoline bombs and thrown objects off bridges onto roads below during clashes at campuses this week. The Chinese University of Hong Kong suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others asked students to switch to online learning.

Students at Chinese University, site of some of the fiercest clashes where students hurled more than 400 firebombs at police on Tuesday, have barricaded themselves in the suburban campus.

Early Thursday they used chainsaws to drop trees onto streets around the campus and prepared for a possible confrontation with police, which were not intervening.

Anti-government protests have riven Hong Kong, and divided its people, for more than five months.

A major rail line connecting Kowloon to mainland China was closed for a second day and five major underground stations were shut along with seven light rail routes, the Transport Department announced.

“Road-based transport services have been seriously affected this morning due to continued road blockages and damage to road facilities. In view of safety concerns and uncertain road conditions, buses can only provide limited services,” the department said.
Traffic was also disrupted because protesters have destroyed at least 240 traffic lights around the city.

The movement began in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill. Activists saw it as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.