Far from Houston, mon­soons cause havoc across na­tions

More than 1,000 peo­ple die in In­dia, Bangladesh, Nepal

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Sid­dhant Mo­han and Prashun Mazum­dar

Heavy rains par­a­lyzed In­dia, Bangladesh and Nepal for the sec­ond day Wed­nes­day as the worst mon­soon in years has caused more 1,000 deaths.

In the western In­dian city of Mum­bai, many of its 20 mil­lion res­i­dents waded through waisthigh wa­ter try­ing to get home from work af­ter be­ing stuck overnight. Buses and trains were halted as roads be­came im­pass­able.

In­dia is used to reg­u­lar flood­ing dur­ing mon­soon sea­son from June to Septem­ber, es­pe­cially in Mum­bai, where mil­lions live in shan­ty­towns that have poor drainage. This year’s floods are un­usu­ally se­vere. Rain was fore­cast to con­tinue through the week.

Shikha Joshi, 32, a banker in Mum­bai, had to spend the night in­side a train that was trapped be­cause the rail­way tracks were un­der­wa­ter.

“No one could move any­where, so it was bet­ter to sit and let the time pass,” said Joshi, who fret­ted about her 12-year-old brother left home alone — un­til neigh­bors went to look af­ter him.

Shivam Arora, 43, a trader in Mum­bai, was luck­ier.

“I have taken the lo­cal train to work ev­ery day for the past 17 years and never have I seen the net­work be so ad­versely af­fected. It was a com­plete break­down of the sys­tem,” he said.

“Trains were can­celed, sta­tions were closed, places (to take shel­ter) were jammed, and the sit­u­a­tion on the roads was cat­a­strophic,” he said. “Thank­fully, my Face­book feed was filled with peo­ple of­fer­ing their homes as shel­ters. And I had to crash at my friend’s place.”

Schools were shut, and of­fices closed early or re­mained shut­tered as the city ex­pe­ri­enced power out­ages. Peo­ple opened their doors to stranded res­i­dents and some took to the streets to dis­trib­ute wa­ter and food.

“Trains were can­celed, sta­tions were closed, places (to take shel­ter) were jammed, and the sit­u­a­tion on the roads was cat­a­strophic.”

Shivam Arora, a trader in Mum­bai

The stag­ger­ing num­ber of deaths in In­dia and its neigh­bors oc­curred when the rains trig­gered land­slides and de­stroyed thou­sands of houses, schools, hos­pi­tals and farm­land, the United Na­tions said this week.

Over the past two days, In­dian of­fi­cials said at least five peo­ple, in­clud­ing two chil­dren, died be­cause of the flood­ing in and around Mum­bai. In the state of Bi­har in east­ern In­dia — one of the worst areas af­fected — at least 400 have died.

Mahesh Ya­dav, 42, a farmer from the Araria district of Bi­har, had to flee from his home as the nearby Koshi River rose.

“I took my fam­ily and few can­is­ters of grains and beans on a boat be­fore flee­ing the house. Now, one can­not see my house any­where. It has gone well un­der the wa­ter,” he said af­ter tak­ing refuge with his wife and two chil­dren in a makeshift shel­ter with about 200 other fam­i­lies.

“It is dif­fi­cult to feed chil­dren even af­ter suc­cess­fully flee­ing the flood,” said his wife, Aarti Devi, 38. “Ev­ery other per­son is fight­ing for food.”

In other parts of In­dia, es­pe­cially re­mote vil­lages, res­cue work­ers strug­gled to get to peo­ple left home­less or in­jured, but the rain de­layed the work.

Sun­der Ku­mar, 53, a con­struc­tion worker from the vil­lage of Valmiki Na­gar in the state of Bi­har, said in a phone call that he was wor­ried.

“We are liv­ing in a tem­po­rary shel­ter, which is just a few feet from the flood­wa­ter. The sit­u­a­tion will get worse if the wa­ter rises,” he said. “Re­lief and res­cue teams do not know this lo­ca­tion, as it is far from their reach.”

Flood­ing hit King Ed­ward Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal in Mum­bai and other med­i­cal cen­ters. Wards were closed and sup­plies de­layed as of­fi­cials strug­gled to keep the dirty wa­ter out of the fa­cil­ity.

Bi­lal Bhat, 37, who runs a small shop in Srinagar, tried to get his son to a doc­tor. “My son is sick for the last seven days, and the flood has crip­pled us to move any­where,” he said. “Now I have to hire a boat to take my son to the hospi­tal.”

The fore­cast for more rain was ter­ri­ble news for Mo­ham­mad Faizan, 33, a small-goods trader who had to flee his house in Ut­tar Pradesh’s Bahraich district af­ter the area started fill­ing with flood­wa­ter.

“I could not take any­thing with me,” he said. “I left my fam­ily at their grand­fa­ther’s home. I am liv­ing on the roof of my house, which is the only part left un­sub­merged, wait­ing for the wa­ter to pass.”

Poonam Ku­mari, 32, used to run a small cloth­ing bou­tique at her house in Kis­hanganj in Bi­har, but she lost her sewing ma­chine in the flood. She’s not sure how she will re­cover her busi­ness, much less man­age the next few days.

“My 8-year-old son is suf­fer­ing from a stom­ach in­fec­tion. ... All I can wish for is the flood­wa­ter to go down very soon,” she said.

Mo­han re­ported from Varanasi, In­dia.


Peo­ple walk through a flooded train sta­tion dur­ing heavy rains in Mum­bai, In­dia, on Tuesday.

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