Commuters make their way through a waterlogged street following heavy rains in Mumbai, India.
Commuters make their way through a waterlogged street following heavy rains in Mumbai, India. Rajanish Kakade

Floods hit 40 million hard in Asia, 1200 dead

AT LEAST 40 million people have been affected by devastating floods and landslides in South Asia, UN humanitarian agencies estimate.

Torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 1200 people and left millions fleeing their homes in India, Bangladesh and Nepal over the past two weeks.

Governments and aid agencies are working to bring clean water, food, shelter and medical aid as tens of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed.

Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways and airports have been damaged by the floods, sometimes leaving entire areas inaccessible. Vast swathes of farmland have been washed away.

The latest UN figures say more than 32 million people have been affected in India, 6.9 million in Bangladesh and 1.7 million in Nepal - a total of about 41 million.

Hundreds of thousands are in emergency shelters, with numbers growing.

Red Cross put the number affected in Bangladesh even higher, at 8.6 million, with more than 3.5 million homes damaged or destroyed.

Nearly 2000 local medical teams have been deployed as a third of the country is believed to be under water.

Hanna Butler from the International Federation of Red Cross has been giving assistance to people in the eastern state of Bihar, a rural part of India where many people live off subsistence farming and one of the areas worst affected by the flooding. The death toll there is believed to have risen to 500.

Ms Butler said, People have been shaken by the huge flooding. This is an area where people are used to a bit of flooding but people said this is on a different scale. The older people have been comparing it to the last big floods of the late 1980s but younger people said they had never experienced anything like this before.

"There was no warning and downpours started one night. People had to escape and fled their homes with only what they could carry. People are on survival mode and they are only thinking about tomorrow but reconstruction will be slow.

"We live in a global world and there is a lot going on out there at the moment but people should know about what is happening in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.”

Ms Butler described people in the region as "resilient” and said those affected "have all been looking out and helping each other”.

"It's amazing, considering what happened, to see life going on,” she added.

Downpours continue to paralyse India's financial capital, Mumbai, with streets turned into rivers. People are forced to move through the city in waist-deep water.

At least six people have died in the city of 20 million people, two of them toddlers.

India's monsoon season runs from June to September and usually leads to some flooding, but authorities said this year's flooding disaster has been the worst to affect the region in years.