[Marxism] More Than 1,000 Died in South Asia Floods This Summer

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 30 06:38:33 MDT 2017


NY Times, August 30, 2017
More Than 1,000 Died in South Asia Floods This Summer
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

MUMBAI, India — More than 1,000 people have died in floods across South 
Asia this summer, and as sheets of incessant rain pummeled the vast 
region on Tuesday, worries grew that the death toll would rise along 
with the floodwaters.

According to the United Nations, at least 41 million people in 
Bangladesh, India and Nepal have been directly affected by flooding and 
landslides resulting from the monsoon rains, which usually begin in June 
and last until September.

And while flooding in the Houston area has grabbed more attention, aid 
officials say a catastrophe is unfolding in South Asia.

In Nepal, thousands of homes have been destroyed and dozens of people 
swept away. Elephants were pressed into service, wading through swirling 
waters to rescue people, and aid workers have built rafts from bamboo 
and banana leaves.

But many people are still missing, and some families have held last 
rites without their loved ones’ bodies being found.

“This is the severest flooding in a number of years,” Francis Markus, a 
spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent 
Societies, said by phone from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.

Nepal’s flooded areas are the poorest parts of the country, where most 
families live in bare mud houses and rely on subsistence farming, he 
said. Those farms are now underwater, and thousands of people are stuck 
living under plastic tarps in camps for displaced people where disease 
is beginning to spread.

Asked how the situation in Nepal compared with that in Houston, Mr. 
Markus said, “We hope people won’t overlook the desperate needs of the 
people here because of the disasters closer home.”

India has also suffered immensely. Floods have swept across the states 
of Assam, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and other areas.

This weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew over the devastation in 
Bihar, where more than 400 people are believed to have died in floods in 
recent weeks. He pledged millions of dollars in assistance and urged 
insurance companies to send in assessors as soon as possible to help 
farmers cope with their losses.

And the rain keeps coming.

On Tuesday, Mumbai, the sprawling financial capital, was soaked to the 
bone. Nearly all day, the rain drummed down. As people scurried up the 
sidewalks, the wind tore umbrellas out of their hands.

The sky seemed to fall lower and lower, pressing down on the building 
tops, cutting visibility to a few blocks, then a few yards. By 
midafternoon, it was so dark it felt like nightfall.

Busy intersections were deluged, and cars struggled to part the muddy, 
greenish waters. Several Mumbai television channels reported that more 
rain had fallen on the city in the past several days than any other time 
since July 2005, when severe flooding killed more than 1,000 people in 
this part of India.

Many trains and flights were delayed or canceled, marooning countless 
people. The authorities urged people to stay home and keep the roads 
clear for emergency vehicles. (Many did not heed that advice, leading to 
traffic snarls throughout the city on Tuesday evening.)

Schools and colleges were shut. Rising water spilled into hospitals and 
sloshed across the floors.

Police officials warned people to leave their cars behind if they were 
caught in a flash flood.

The Mumbai police, writing on Twitter, urged people to abandon their 
cars if they encountered high water.

The monsoons have battered Bangladesh as well. A low-lying and densely 
populated country of 165 million, Bangladesh is chronically ravaged by 
flooding. This year’s monsoons have left roughly a third of its terrain 
submerged.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent said on 
its website that more than eight million Bangladeshis had been affected 
by the flooding, the worst in 40 years. At least 140 people have died, 
and nearly 700,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Corinne Ambler, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Bangladesh who had just taken 
an aerial tour of the devastation, said she was stunned.

“All I could see was water, the whole way,” she said in a telephone 
interview from Dhaka, the capital. “You have tiny little clumps of 
houses stuck in the middle of water.”

After visiting some of the afflicted villages by boat, she said that 
many Bangladeshis had told her, “We’re used to flooding, but we’ve never 
seen anything like this in our lives.”






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