Environmental News Archive

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After The Floods, Illness Looms

Aug 11 2007 (TODAY)

DHAKA - Health workers in Bangladesh battled diarrhoea and cholera on
Friday as international aid began to flow into South Asia to help millions
lacking water and food after the worst monsoon floods in decades.

The death toll was well above 2,000 on Friday with at least 16 more
deaths reported in Bangla-desh and 19 in India's Bihar state overnight.

Rains have halted from southern Nepal to Bangladesh in the east. The focus
now is on combating a host of water-borne diseases, health officials said.

At Bangladesh's biggest diarrhoea hospital in the capital Dhaka, doctors
like Mr Alejandro Cravioto were working around the clock amid hundreds of
extra beds under tents to help flood victims.

"It's like a war-zone situation," he said.

Several countries and international agencies have pledged assistance and
money to help victims in South Asia, including the European Union which
has put up an initial four million euros ($8.3 million).

Meanwhile, a senior United Nations official said that serious flooding
affects 500 million people every year.

He said that it has become a major problem not just in Asian countries
with annual monsoons and typhoons, but in countries like Sudan, Colombia,
Ethiopia and Afghanistan. According to the UN, 83 per cent of disaster
victims last year lived in Asia.

Assistant Secretary-General Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN deputy emergency
relief coordinator, added that floods and weather-related disasters
accounted for 59 per cent of all reported disasters last year.

Between 2004 and 2006, there was an increase from 200 to 400 emergencies,
with the number of floods increasing from 60 to over 100, she said. This
year, there have been about 70 floods up to August, she said.

The UN cited as examples the July heat wave in Europe, the cyclone in Oman
in June, and floods this summer in Sudan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, South Asia,
Afghanistan and Colombia. - Agencies

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