Nearly 600 dead in South Asia floods

Flood affected villagers travel by boat in floodwaters in Morigaon district, east of Gauhati, northeastern state of Assam, on Aug. 15, 2017. (File Photo by AP)
Updated 19 August 2017

Nearly 600 dead in South Asia floods

NEW DELHI: Nearly 600 people have died and millions have been affected by monsoon floods in South Asia, officials said Saturday, as relief and rescue operations continued.
The latest floods and landslides in the subcontinent began in the second week of August, as the annual monsoon strengthened its grip over the northern and eastern parts of the region.
Indian authorities sought military help in two districts of northern Uttar Pradesh state after fresh heavy rains left hundreds of villages marooned.
As many as 33 out of 75 districts in the most populated Indian state are reeling from floods that have left 55 people dead.
“We have sought army’s help to reach out to the affected people,” T P Gupta, a senior official from the state’s disaster management authority, told AFP.
Nearly 100,000 people have moved to shelters, with authorities estimating another two million have been hit by the deluge.
In India’s worst hit Bihar state the death toll reached 153 following one of the deadliest floods to hit the region since 2008.
Nearly 400,000 people have sought shelter in relief camps and an estimated 10 million have been affected by the flood.
Anirudh Kumar, a top disaster management agency official in the state, said more than 5,000 emergency workers including 2,000 soldiers were supporting relief and rescue operations.
“Nearly 1,300 shelters have been opened to accommodate the affected people,” Kumar told AFP.
Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh border Nepal, which was hit by floods at the weekend and where the death toll is 123. At least 20 percent of the 28 million population is affected in what the United Nations has called the worst flood to hit the country in 15 years.
Further east in India, at least 60 people have died in floods that hit Assam state a second time in less than four months and nearly 425,000 remain in relief camps.
Railway connectivity between the remote region and mainland remained suspended for the sixth consecutive day following large scale damage to the tracks.
Authorities in West Bengal state said the flood waters were receding after a lull in the rains but 52 so far deaths were reported. More than a million people have been affected.
At least a hundred people have died in neighboring Bangladesh with close to six million affected by the floods.
The government has opened nearly a thousand shelters in schools and colleges where nearly 300,000 people have taken shelter, the country’s disaster management department said.
But there are still pockets of the country where help has yet to reach.
Poresh Mondol, a farmer in the northern district of Kurigram, one of the worst hit areas, has been camping with his family on the roof of his tin-shed house, most of which was submerged.
“No one has come to us with any help. We are left with the last fist-full of dry goods,” he told AFP by phone.
The International Red Cross called it a humanitarian crisis and said urgent action was needed.
“Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters,” said Martin Faller, deputy regional director for Asia Pacific, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Every year hundreds die in landslides and floods during the monsoon season that hits India’s southern tip in early June and sweeps across the South Asia region for four months.
A massive landslide in India’s Himachal Pradesh state swept two passenger buses off a hillside, killing 46 people on Sunday.
Eight others, including two soldiers, were killed in Uttarakhand state in landslides on Monday.
Nearly 350 people died in the first wave of floods that began mid-July in India’s western Gujarat state and several remote northeastern states.


Kim Jong Un supervises another North Korean military drill

Updated 14 min 25 sec ago

Kim Jong Un supervises another North Korean military drill

  • North Korea has publicized two military drill in three days
  • Kim Jong un has urged combat pilots to prepare against enemies ‘armed to the teeth’ while attending a flight demonstration

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a parachuting drill of military sharpshooters and vowed to build an “invincible army,” displaying more defiance even as the United States and South Korea called off their own exercises to create space for nuclear diplomacy.
The report Monday by the Korean Central News Agency came hours after President Donald Trump in a tweet urged Kim to “act quickly, get the deal done” while hinting at another summit, writing, “See you soon!”
At an Asian defense ministers’ conference in Bangkok on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States has indefinitely postponed a joint military exercise with South Korea in an “act of goodwill” toward North Korea. Diplomats have been pushing to resume stalled nuclear talks ahead of Kim’s end-of-year deadline for the Trump administration to salvage the diplomacy.
North Korea has publicized two military drill in three days. A report Saturday said Kim urged combat pilots to prepare against enemies “armed to the teeth” while attending a flight demonstration.
KCNA published photos that showed Kim posing with North Korean air force sharpshooters and soldiers who used white parachutes to land on a training field.
Kim while supervising the drill said it’s “necessary to wage a drill without notice under the simulated conditions of real war” for improving his military’s war readiness and build it into an “invincible army,” KNCA said. Kim did not make any specific comment toward Washington or Seoul in the report.
North Korea has been ramping up missile tests and other military demonstrations in recent months in an apparent pressure tactic over the talks.
Negotiations have faltered since a February summit between Kim and Trump in Vietnam, which broke down after the U.S. rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Kim issued an end-of-year deadline for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal while saying that the North would seek a “new path” if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure.
Working-level talks last month in Sweden broke down over what the North Koreans described as the Americans’ “old stance and attitude.”
North Korea last week said the United States has proposed a resumption of stalled nuclear negotiations in December. But North Korean negotiator Kim Myong Gil didn’t clearly say whether the North would accept the supposed U.S. offer and said the country has no interest in talks if they are aimed at buying time without discussing solutions.
He said the North isn’t willing to make a deal over “matters of secondary importance,” such as possible US offers to formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which was halted by a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, or establish a liaison office between the countries.