BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 13:10 GMT
Cold grips South Asia
Women wrap themselves in blankets in Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar
Many in the region live without shelter or warm clothing
Cold weather is being blamed for hundreds of deaths in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

Temperatures have fallen below zero as biting winds sweep down from the Himalayas and heavy fog hangs over much of the region.

Most of the people who died were pavement dwellers who sleep under trees or under the open skies. Often, they cannot afford any woollens

Government official, Uttar Pradesh
Each year, cold weather at this time of year claims casualties in a region where millions live without power, shelter or warm clothing.

But this year weather officials say the cold is especially severe as daytime fog and clouds are blocking out the sun.

Officials stress cold weather cannot be blamed for all the deaths, many of which are caused by old age or illness.

Disruption

In Chiru in the north Indian state of Rajasthan the temperature fell to -1.1C on Saturday.

In Bangladesh, according to Samarendra Karmakar, Deputy Director of the Storm Warning Centre at the country's Meteorological Centre, temperatures have fallen as low as 5.1C.

A Bangladeshi farmer covers a calf with jute sacks to keep it warm
Farmers have been struggling to cope
He told BBC News Online that the cold spell would last for another few days and then the temperature would rise slowly. But he warns that another period of cold is expected next month.

In the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar schools have been closed for the past week and are expected to remain closed for several days.

Many flights and trains have also been cancelled or delayed, and farming has been disrupted.

Casualties

There are no official estimates for the number of cold-related deaths.

In Bangladesh, the worst hit by the cold weather, reports suggest as many as 500 people could have died.

A Buddhist monk wraps up warm in Bodh Gaya
The cold is forecast to last another few days
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia toured parts of the capital, Dhaka, to distribute warm clothing and blankets to the homeless on Sunday night.

State-run radio in Nepal said on Monday that 41 people had been confirmed dead in the regions bordering the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

But according to our correspondent in Nepal, unofficial reports say up to 60 people - most of them children and the elderly - have died.

A government official in Uttar Pradesh told Reuters: "Most of the people who died were pavement dwellers who sleep under trees or under the open skies. Often, they cannot afford any woollens."

See also:

07 Jan 03 | South Asia
31 Dec 02 | South Asia
07 Jan 03 | South Asia
05 Jan 01 | South Asia
06 Jan 00 | South Asia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes