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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Bangladesh rejects help for flood
Dhaka rickshaw pullers
Some suburbs of Dhaka are now flooded
The government of Bangladesh says that it will not appeal for international help to cope with floods that have covered more than half the country.

The decision was taken during an emergency meeting in Dhaka chaired by the prime minister.

Twenty million Bangladeshis have been affected by the floods and millions more in India are also suffering.

The authorities in the east Indian state of Bihar say that 225 people have died in heavy rains this month.

Marooned or homeless

The Bangladeshi Disaster Management and Relief Minister, Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf, told the BBC that food supplies were sufficient, and that thousands of tonnes of rice have been distributed to flood victims.

He said the government will ask other countries for help after the current disaster is over to build permanent shelters on higher ground in the north and north east of the country.

The BBC correspondent in Dhaka says that more than 40 of Bangladesh's 64 districts are now underwater.

Officials estimate that 20m people are marooned or homeless.

The Flood Forecasting Warning Centre in its latest bulletin said the waters are beginning to recede slightly in the districts of Sylhet and Sunamganj which have been the worst hit so far.


But our correspondent says rivers are rising in the central region around Dhaka, with some suburbs of the city are already flooded.

The Red Cross said on Thursday that it would launch an international appeal to raise money to deal with the floods, which it warned could become critical if more rain falls.

Flood victims in Assam
Parts of the Assam capital, Guwahati, are also under water

"If we have another onset of rains it is going to be devastating and that is what we are preparing for," Bangladesh Red Cross head Tony Maryon told the AFP news agency.

In both Bangladesh and India there is the additional fear of water borne diseases.

"The danger comes when the water stops rising and starts to stagnate," said a UN spokesman in Dhaka.

'Infrastructure collapsed'

In India, flooding continues to cause chaos in the north and east of the country.

Figures released by state of Bihar of Thursday say that more than 7,000 villages have been affected, with the situation still grim in many districts.

The BBC correspondent in Patna, the capital of Bihar, says that rescue operations are continuing, with food packets being dropped by helicopters.

The Nepalese government has allowed its border roads to be used by the Indian authorities to supply essential commodities to flood-affected people in Bihar.

Rickshaw puller in Dhaka
The Red cross has warned that if the rains continue, the situation will turn critical

Meanwhile reports from Guwahati, capital of the state of Assam, say that the flood water is spilling into the shopping areas of the city.

"Our basic infrastructure has totally collapsed, disrupting normal life and affecting relief and rescue operations all over the state," the state Public Works Department Minister Bhumidhar Burman told the Reuters news agency.

Millions of people have been made marooned or made homeless in Assam alone.

Their predicament is in contrast to that faced by other Indians who face a drought threat.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament that vast swathes of northern, western and central India had experienced insufficient rainfall, and that crops could be affected.

The BBC's Roland Buerk
"The floodwater that has caused chaos through South-East Asia has passed through here on its way to the sea"

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