FURTHER flooding caused by monsoon rains across South Asia this week has claimed the lives of more than 200 people.
On Wednesday, the magazine India Today reported that 225 people had died in the country — almost doubling the number of fatalities across South Asia this monsoon season (News, 19 July). Millions of people have already been affected by flooding and mudslides caused by the rains, including Rohingya refugees living in temporary shelters in camps on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
In Pakistan, dozens more have been killed, or are missing.
In India, more than 165,000 people have been evacuated from the states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra, the hardest-hit areas, into relief camps. Local authorities fear that thunderstorms and rainfall predicted in some parts of Kerala this week could curb rescue attempts.
The RC charity CAFOD is working with a network of churches on the ground to provide emergency aid for the people affected, including temporary shelter, clean water, food, clothing, bedsheets, blankets, and hygiene kits to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.
About 300 RC church buildings in Kerala have been transformed into relief camps to accommodate 45,000 people, Vatican News reported.
CAFOD’s emergency response officer for Asia, Yael Eshel, said: “The Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra are once again suffering from terrible monsoon flooding which has already claimed the lives of more than 140 people. Just one year on from the worst floods experienced by the region in more than a century, villages are once again being washed away and communities left homeless.”
“Most houses in the worst-affected areas have been submerged and damaged,” the charity’s emergency programme officer in India, Shivani Rana, said. “People have also lost their agricultural fields to land erosion due to the heavy current of water. Livelihoods are basically on hold, with water submerging grain stores and washing away paddy stocks.
“Health is a major concern. There is already an outbreak of diarrhoea, dysentery, and skin infections, with women and children the most affected.”