India and Bangladesh floods displace millions and kill dozens

Bangladesh government officials have described the floods as the country's worst since 2004
Bangladesh government officials have described the floods as the country's worst since 2004

At least 59 people are known to have died in lightning strikes and landslides triggered by severe monsoon storms in India and Bangladesh.

Millions of people have been stranded while emergency workers have struggled to reach those affected.

Forecasters are warning that the flooding is expected to get worse over the next few days.

Some Bangladesh government officials have described the recent flooding as the country’s worst since 2004.

Unrelenting rains over the last week have inundated vast swathes of the country’s north-east region, exacerbated by run-off from heavy downpours across mountains in neighbouring India.

Schools have been converted into makeshift shelters, while troops have been deployed to evacuate households cut off from neighbouring communities as a result of rising waters.

This week’s rains come as Bangladesh’s Sylhet region was still recovering from its worst floods in nearly two decades in late May, when at least 10 people were killed and four million others were affected.

Syed Rafiqul Haque, a former lawmaker, said Bangladesh was at risk of a humanitarian crisis with “almost the entire Sylhet-Sunamganj belt… under water and millions of people… stranded”.

Some 3.1 million people were displaced in the region, officials said, with 200,000 of them now being housed in makeshift shelters on higher ground.

Seasonal monsoon rains represent a lifeline for farmers across South Asia, but typically cause deaths and destruction to property every year. Bangladesh and India have both experienced increasingly extreme weather in recent years.

Environmentalists – while not ascribing single weather events to climate change – do warn it could lead to more disasters, especially in countries that are low-lying and densely populated.