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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Millions hit by South Asia floods
Assam villagers abandon flooded home
Flood waters are moving down from Assam and Nepal
Flood waters are continuing to rise in Bangladesh and eastern India, swamping large stretches of land and affecting millions of people.

Bihar man carries child to safety in a basket
More than 50 people have died in Bihar

Officials in Bihar state in India say floods have killed 50 people and now affect an estimated five million people - although rising waters make precise calculations difficult.

In Bangladesh, about a third of the country is flooded as the water continues to rise on many of the four main rivers and their 250 tributaries.

In the Indian state of Assam and neighbouring Nepal, where the floods and landslides hit first, water levels are either stable or receding, although large swathes still remain inundated.

The Indian army has deployed several units in both Bihar and Assam to help the civil administration cope with the challenges of rescue and relief.

Military operations

The situation in Bihar is thought to be the most serious with the state administration unable to ascertain exactly how many people have been made homeless or are marooned by rising waters.

Bangladeshi children brave floods to go to school
About a third of Bangladesh is under water

The army has already deployed a group of engineers in boats and medical personnel carrying primary health-care facilities in Bihar's northern Madhubani district.

Madhubani lies along the border with Nepal, and as flood waters recede across the border, they seem to be emptying into Bihar's northern districts.

On Friday the army said it was flying out another contingent to the state from Delhi.

Indian troops have also been helping flood-affected people to move to safer ground in Assam's Kamrup, Morigaon and Lahorighat districts.

Growing danger

Officials in Dhaka have been playing down the scale of the floods that have swamped 25 of the country's 64 districts, affecting an estimated million people.

Army relief units move boats in Bihar
Troops have been sent to Bihar and Assam

They say such floods are annual events and usually follow the seasonal monsoon rains.

They also question the accuracy of press reports of deaths from the affected areas, saying many of the deaths were not directly flood-related.

However, the government's flood warning centre, which monitors water levels in the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Jamuna and Meghna rivers at 117 points, says water is flowing above the danger level at 12 points.

It says the water level is close to the danger mark at many other points and if it continues to rise, floods could become a much more serious problem next fortnight.

Fear of drought

Upstream in Nepal, there has been limited rain over the past 48 hours and flood waters have been receding in the worst-hit eastern and central districts.

Officials have confirmed the death of more than 200 people while almost 100 remain missing but unofficial estimates put the figures much higher.

The authorities say 1,000 families were made homeless with more than 600 houses completely destroyed by floods or landslides over the past few days.

Correspondents say many of these estimates are provisional since officials are still assessing damage and loss, and the toll could rise as more precise figures became available.

Meanwhile, in western Nepal, as in some states in central and western India, many districts are faced with the prospect of drought as monsoon rains are delayed.

See also:

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