Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images
An Indian villager makes his way through floodwaters in the Kaziranga National Park. Rescue operations were underway as the number of people stranded by floods from torrential monsoon rains climbed to 19 million across northern India and Bangladesh.
An Indian villager makes his way through floodwaters in the Kaziranga National Park. Rescue operations were underway as the number of people stranded by floods from torrential monsoon rains climbed to 19 million across northern India and Bangladesh. Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images
As many as 19 million people have been driven from their homes in northern India and Bangladesh by torrential rains and floods that have left at least 186 dead.
On Friday, soldiers evacuated 500 villages in Uttar Pradesh, said the state's relief commissioner.
In Mumbai, the country's bustling financial capital, people waded through knee-deep water that covered many streets after severe overnight rains.
The monsoon season in South Asia runs from June to September and is vital to the region's agriculture. But the monsoons are always dangerous; last year, more than 1,000 people died, most by drowning, landslides or collapsing houses.
On Wednesday, 28 people died when an evacuation boat capsized on an engorged river.
So far this year, some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh have been displaced or marooned by the flooding, according to government figures. At least 132 people have died in India and 54 have perished in Bangladesh.
In Assam, in northeastern India, about 100,000 displaced people were staying in government relief camps while hundreds of thousands of others sought shelter on higher ground, setting up makeshift dwellings. Millions of people have been cut off from the rest of the country.
Haneefa Begum and her two children fled their village in western Assam for a makeshift relief camp six miles away. She said the portions of rice and lentils she was given were not enough to stave off hunger.
Millions more have been left homeless in other parts of India, and officials say the floods have destroyed crops worth millions of dollars.
In neighboring Bangladesh, the floods inundated parts of a major highway connecting Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, with much of the rest of the country.
India's Meteorological Department said unusual monsoon patterns this year have led to heavier than normal rains. "We've been getting constant rainfall in these areas for nearly 20 days," said B. P. Yadav, a spokesman for the department.
From Associated Press reports