In Brief

Forgotten world: Floods and landslides kill 1,200 in South Asia

While Houston floods capture the world's attention, monsoons in South Asia are destroying villages, farms and lives

A catastrophe is unfolding in South Asia where the monsoon season has brought floods, landslides and more than 1,200 deaths in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

While Hurricane Harvey in Texas has inspired 24-hour news coverage, there have been few reports of the heavier-than-normal rain that is affecting at least 41 million people in South Asia, according to UN estimates.

"In Nepal, thousands of homes have been destroyed and dozens of people swept away," says the New York Times. "Elephants were pressed into service, wading through swirling waters to rescue people, and aid workers have built rafts from bamboo and banana leaves."

Asked how the situation in Nepal compared with that in Houston, Francis Markus, a Red Cross and Red Crescent spokesman, said: "We hope people won't overlook the desperate needs of the people here because of the disasters closer home."

In India, heavy rain has caused damage across Assam, Odisha and West Bengal, but the worst-affected state is Bihar where "the overall flood toll in the state stood at 514 on Tuesday", the Times of India reports. 

About a third of Bangladesh is under water in the worst flooding in 40 years, according to the Red Cross. At least 140 people have died there, 700,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed and the World Food Programme is feeding more than 200,000 people.

Jono Anzalone, the vice president of international services at the American Red Cross, told National Public Radio that Bangladesh's shelter and rescue teams cannot be compared to those in Texas: "For better or for worse, when people look at the US response system, we have a very mature federal disaster response system...

"You don't see that in Nepal, Bangladesh or India. In Nepal and Bangladesh, the government simply doesn't have the resources."

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