A month of severe monsoon rains, which peaked earlier this week, resulted in the deaths of at least 1, 200 people across India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and left two thirds of Bangladesh underwater.
According to the United Nations, around 41 million people have been affected by flooding and landslides that have ensued due to the monsoon across the subcontinent. They issued this estimation on August 24, which was before the brunt of the rains slammed Mumbai, India’s financial capital. As of Thursday, the rain and flooding is affecting Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city, local sources have confirmed. Eight people are confirmed dead thus far as a direct result of the flooding.
This deadly flooding occurs as the United States’ Texas and Louisiana were slammed by a deadly storm formerly known as Hurricane Harvey (which has since been downgraded), which left deadly floods through Texas.
South Asia suffers from flooding during the monsoon season (June to September), but local authorities are in agreement that this year’s floods are among the worst they’ve seen.
“Even by Asian monsoon standards, it’s been a spectacularly wet summer in Bangladesh and parts of east India,” explained senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. “At least 500 millimeters (about 20 inches) more rain has fallen than even an average wet phase of the monsoon over virtually all of Bangladesh and adjoining areas of east India and far western Myanmar this summer.”
“Heavy rain in the Asia monsoon is normal,” he said, “but, this was above the norm over a large area of Bangladesh, east India.”
While the sheer amount of water has in and of itself caused widespread devastation, Erdman added that “all that tremendous volume of water then has to drain slowly to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and the Bay of Bengal,” meaning this devastation won’t simply clear overnight.
Oxfam said its Bangladesh staff reported two-thirds of the country was underwater, ABC News reported, and in some areas the flooding was the worst it has been since 1988, which was the most devastating flood to hit the country resulting in 1,050 deaths.
In Bangladesh, “more than 600,000 hectares (nearly 1,500,000 acres) of farmland have been partially damaged and in excess of 10,000 hectares (nearly 25,000 acres) have been completely washed away,” the Independent reported, noting that Bangladesh’s economy is dependent on farming.
“Farmers are left with nothing, not even with clean drinking water,” the Independent quoted Matthew Marek, the head of disaster response in Bangladesh for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, as saying.
The UN also described the devastating situation in Nepal, where 150 people have died, as the worst flooding the country has seen in a decade. Homes have been swept away, the New York Times reported. “This is the severest flooding in a number of years,” Francis Markus, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, tole the New York Times from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.
The flooding and the mass human displacement across Bangladesh, Nepal, and India has created an urgent demand for humanitarian supplies, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
In India, the effects of this monsoon season have brutalized several states including Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Several villages in Bihar in the eastern part of the country, are still completely ravaged by the flood waters, leaving locals living in temporary shelters, many of which were thrown together out of whatever materials they could gather, according to a report in Indian Express. The cresting waters from nearby rivers have inundated the state, impacting 17 million people in 21 districts of the 99 million-person state thus far. Al Jazeera reported than more than half of the casualties from this deadly monsoon are from Bihar.
Swaths of residential and farmland are under water, too, in the eastern part of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At least 109 people have died in the area thus far as a direct result of the flooding brought about by the monsoon, Singapore’s The Strait Times reports. There are conflicting reports about the amounts of people impacted by the damage and amount of people impacted, with some estimates as high as 3 million people being affected in 5,000 of the state’s villages.
Mumbai was devastated as well, with the monsoon dumping a month’s average rainfall on the city in a single day. The inundation left streets severely flooded, halting public transportation and led to flight cancellations and diversion out of Mumbai’s international airport.
“Mumbai and adjoining areas are likely to get fairly widespread rainfall, which will be heavy in a few pockets,” K.S. Hosalikar, a senior India Meteorological Department official, said.
A four story residential building collapse in the city as a result of the flooding occurred Thursday morning, which left 12 people dead and at least 25 others trapped in the wreckage. The collapse, which occurred in the densely populated Bhendi Bazaar, after the surrounding streets were already filled, The Guardian reported. “Authorities have advised people living in an adjacent building to evacuate after it developed cracks following the collapse,” the report added.
According to Daniel David Pezarker, 29, “railway tracks were flooded with water. And after heavy rain the Mumbai train line was no longer working.”
When he realized what was happening on Tuesday morning, he ran home — 4 miles from work — to avoid the worst of the flooding. Many of his friends, family, and colleagues were less lucky. They got stuck across the city: “Some were in the middle of their journey and could not reach home or turn back to the office. They had to stay outside on the road, at the railway station or the bus stop without food water or restroom facilities.”
The floods damaged 18,000 schools across the entire south Asia, which in turn has left approximately1.8 million children unable to attend indefinitely.
By Rachel Delia Benaim. Source: The Weather Channel