Friday, September 11, 1998 Published at 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
World: South Asia
UN warns of Bangladesh disaster
Rafting to shelter in Dhaka
He said the disaster could only be alleviated if a huge relief operation is launched.
The warning came as the International Red Cross said it was fighting a losing battle in its efforts to get relief supplies and safe drinking water to stricken villages across the country.
"The situation is now alarming in Dhaka," the state-owned Bangladesh Television said of the city, two-thirds of which is now under water with floods threatening parts of the international airport.
Officials in Bangladesh say Dhaka tops the danger list of cities facing complete devastation.
Continual efforts are being made there to prevent the collapse of an embankment protecting up to 500,000 homes on the eastern side of the city.
The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre said the swollen Buriganga river is likely to rise even higher than its current level, already a metre above the danger level.
So far, the floods have killed more than 700 people and left more than 21m homeless, and it is still believed that the waters could rise further before they recede.
And as Dhaka's hospitals continue to fill up with patients suffering severe diarrhoea, foreign governments have issued health warnings to their nationals resident in the country.
Foreign relief pledged
The Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has been defending her government against opposition criticism that the country was late in asking for aid and inadequately prepared for the disaster.
Pledges of foreign aid are arriving in response to Bangladesh's appeals for $879m for emergency relief and post-floods rehabilitation.
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has offered additional aid of $36m - according to reports on Friday - and the International Monetary Fund has also offered an emergency grant of $98m.