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Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 16:28 UK

Monsoon chaos sweeps South Asia

Pakistani commuters travel by bus along a flooded street after heavy monsoon rainfall in Karachi on July 19, 2009
Monsoon rains wreak havoc in South Asia almost every year

Scores of people are reported to have been killed by flash floods in eastern India, as an uneven monsoon brings chaos across the subcontinent.

Authorities in the Indian state of Orissa say that at least 36 people have died in flooding in the past week. Half a million homes have been flooded.

In Pakistan there have been protests amid power outages after heavy rains killed at least 29 people in Karachi.

But in Bangladesh, poor monsoon rainfall is causing widespread alarm.

Weather protests

In the state of Orissa, rivers were reported to have breached their banks and thousands of hectares of crops have been damaged. More rain was forecast.

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Analysts say that India has suffered a poor start to to the monsoon season.

Monsoon floods hit India every year, killing hundreds and forcing millions of people to leave their homes.

But this year, some states have experienced drought while others have experienced flooding.

Pakistan's southern port of Karachi has been subjected to two days of incessant rain, and power has still not been restored in many areas.

Residents furious about rain-related deaths and power failures came out to demonstrate in various part of the city and blocked the main highway out of the city for several hours on Sunday night.

Witnesses say that police fired their guns into the air to disperse the protesters.

According to Pakistan's meteorological office, the levels of rain recorded in Karachi were the highest since 1970.

Bangladesh fears

Bangladesh is one of the world's wettest countries and usually suffers heavy flooding, but this year's annual monsoon rains are much weaker than normal.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka says the situation is a source of anxiety for farmers and government officials. The authorities say that there has been been 40% less rain this year than normal.

The government is concerned that this could have a seriously adverse affect on the next food harvest.

An official in the northern town of Dinajpur said that much farmland there was now bone-dry, so was completely useless for planting rice.



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