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20 Million Affected by Floods in South Asia

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Relief workers are struggling to help at least 20 million people affected by floods in South Asia. Nearly 1,400 people have died so far in this year's annual monsoon rains in South Asia. Anjana Pasricha in VOA's New Delhi bureau reports more than 1,100 people have killed in India alone.

As heavy monsoon rains continue to sweep India, Bangladesh and Nepal, government and relief agencies are battling to help the victims.

Devendra Tak, with the regional Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, paints a grim picture.

"There have been lives lost across the region due to drowning, due to snake bite, due to house collapses, casualties are rising and…there is always a danger of diseases that always follow floods," said Tak.

In India, the states of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have been the worst hit by weeks of constant rainfall. Rivers have burst banks. Flood waters have inundated vast tracts of valuable crops and washed out roads, bridges and railways. The Army has been deployed to evacuate hundreds of cut-off villages.

Neighboring Bangladesh is criss-crossed by rivers and half the country is under water. And in mountainous Nepal, landslides and floods triggered by the rains have displaced tens of thousands of people.

Government and aid agencies have established hundreds of relief camps but say the top priority is to provide clean drinking water and food to the victims wherever they are.

Tak says the massive relief operation is making progress but not enough.

"Relief has been slow in coming I would say overall…. and they would need to do a lot of quick work to provide relief to victims who really require it urgently," Tak added.

The floods will leave a long-term impact on the region as they wash away standing crops, and prevent farmers from planting seeds for the next season. And many poor laborers will be left without work - deepening poverty among already impoverished flood victims.

Floods are an annual occurrence in South Asia during the July to September monsoon season. But authorities say the flooding this year has been more severe than usual.

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