Officials in South Asia are trying to get food, clean water and medicines to millions of people left stranded or homeless by massive monsoon flooding.

The latest estimates from Western news agencies say the floods have killed about 300 people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

However, Indian government figures cited by the U.N. Children's Fund put the death toll at more than 11-hundred since the monsoon season started in June.

The annual flooding has driven an estimated 20 million people from their homes.

Authorities have expressed concern about possible epidemics of malaria, dysentery or encephalitis. They are also worried about starvation, as millions of flood victims have no access to food or clean water.

Authorities have been using helicopters to drop food and medicine to people stranded by the floods.

The eastern Indian states of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh appear to be the hardest hit. Elsewhere, half of Bangladesh is under water and landslides and floods in Nepal have displaced tens of thousands of people.

UNICEF - the United Nations child welfare agency - said the size and scale of the flooding and the massive numbers of people affected pose huge challenges to officials.

South Asia's monsoon season is considered vital to the region's agriculture. However, each year, the rains cause hundreds of deaths and widespread devastation. This year's rainfall has been heavier than usual.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.