Bangladeshi authorities brace for the spread of waterborne diseases, rushing to supply clean water to people trapped in their homes by floods in a quarter of the country. , a government official said on Thursday.
About 2,000 rescue teams are trying to reach flood victims in 17 of the country’s 64 districts and get them water and other supplies, Atiqul Haque, director general of Bangladesh’s Department of Disaster Management, told Reuters.
“With the receding of the flood waters, there is a possibility of an epidemic. We fear the outbreak of water-borne diseases if the availability of drinking water is not guaranteed soon,” Haque said.
“Ensuring the availability of drinking water is our top priority.”
More than 4.5 million people have been cut off and 42 have died in the worst flooding in more than 100 years in the Sylhet region of the northeast.
The floods have damaged 75,000 hectares of rice and 300,000 hectares of other crops, such as maize, jute and vegetables, said the head of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Agriculture, Humayun Kabir.
“The devastation is huge. More crops could be damaged as new areas are being flooded.”
Fatema Begum, a mother of three in the hardest-hit Sunamganj district, said the floods swept away everything.
“There’s not even a trail,” he said of his little thatched hut. “We don’t even have a change of clothes. No one has come to help.”
The monsoon causes heavy rains and floods in South Asia between June and October, especially in low-lying areas such as Bangladesh, where rivers swollen by Himalayan waters often overflow their banks.
However, extreme weather conditions are becoming more frequent and environmental experts warn that climate change could cause more and more serious catastrophes.
In the eastern Indian state of Assam, also hard hit by rains sweeping the region, Indian Air Force helicopters were deployed on Thursday to drop food and other supplies to isolated communities.
More than 280,000 people remain isolated in the town of Silchar, most of which remains under water, district official Keerthi Jalli told Reuters.
“Never before in our lives have we witnessed such devastation. The water was up to my chest,” Monowar Barbhuyan, who teaches in Silchar, told GLM.