Source AP ©

Heavy monsoon floods displace 19 million people killing 186 in India and Bangladesh

The death toll rose Friday to at least 186 as heavy monsoon rains triggered floods across a wide swath of northern India and Bangladesh, destroying crops, submerging roads and displacing 19 million people, officials said.

Other parts of India were also hit hard. In Mumbai, the country's bustling financial capital, people waded through knee-deep water that covered many streets after severe overnight rains.

The monsoon season in South Asia runs from June to September and is vital to the region's agriculture. But the monsoons are always dangerous; last year more than 1,000 people died, most by drowning, landslides, house collapses or electrocution.

With swollen rivers bursting their banks after days of rain, that danger is again being made clear on the fertile plans that stretch along the southern edge of the Himalayas and provide food for hundreds of millions of people.

In one of the worst single incidents this year, 28 people died when an overcrowded boat evacuating them from their village capsized as it tried to navigate an engorged river on Wednesday.

So far this year, some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh have been displaced or marooned by the flooding, according to government figures. At least 132 people have died in recent days because of the floods in India and 54 more in Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, farmer Rahmat Sheikh and his family were among the 2,000 villagers who fled their flooded village in Sirajganj district.

"The floods have taken away all I had," Sheikh, 40, told reporters. "Rice paddies in the field, two cows and my house all are gone. I don't know how we will now survive."

Sirajganj, 104 kilometers (65 miles) northwest of the capital of Dhaka, is one of the country's hardest-hit areas, and officials said they are dispatching flood, water and medicine to the area.

Health workers have fanned across the region to help prevent a spread of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and cholera.

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