Health concerns emerge in Bangladesh as floodwaters recede

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By Ruma Paul and Zarir Hussain

DHAKA/GUWAHATI (Reuters) – Authorities in Bangladesh are bracing for the spread of waterborne diseases and rushing to provide clean water to people stranded in their homes by floods in a quarter of the country, a senior official said on Thursday. responsible.

Nearly 2,000 rescue teams were trying to reach flood victims in 17 of the country’s 64 districts and bring them water and other supplies, Atiqul Haque, director general of the Department of Management, told Reuters. disasters.

“With the flood waters receding, there is a possibility of an epidemic. We fear the outbreak of waterborne diseases if clean water is not provided soon,” Haque said.

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“Ensuring the availability of drinking water is our top priority.”

More than 4.5 million people are stranded and 42 people have been killed in the worst flooding in the northeast region of Sylhet in more than 100 years.

The floods damaged 75,000 hectares of paddy and 300,000 hectares of other crops, including maize, jute and vegetables, said agriculture ministry official Humayun Kabir.

“The devastation is enormous. Other crops could be damaged as new areas are flooded.”

Fatema Begum, a mother of three in the worst affected district of Sunamganj, said the floods took everything away.

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“There’s not even a trace,” she said of her small thatched-roof hut. “We don’t even have a second pair of clothes. Nobody came to help us.”

The monsoon brings heavy rains and floods to South Asia between June and October, especially in low-lying areas like Bangladesh, where water-swollen rivers flowing from the Himalayas often overflow their banks.

But extreme weather events have become more frequent and environmentalists warn that climate change could lead to increasingly severe disasters.

In the eastern Indian state of Assam, also hard hit by rain that battered the region, Indian Air Force helicopters were deployed on Thursday to drop food and supplies. other supplies to isolated communities.

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More than 280,000 people were stranded in the town of Silchar, most of whom were underwater, district official Keerthi Jalli told Reuters.

“Never before in our lifetime have we witnessed such devastation. The water was rising to my chest,” Silchar’s teacher, Monowar Barbhuyan, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Zarir Hussain in Guwahati; Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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