Growing death toll from monsoon floods hampers South Asia virus efforts Jul 31, 2020 0 365 12345 AFPNew DelhiThe death toll from monsoon floods across South Asia has increased to more than 340 people over recent weeks, with villages still submerged and tens of thousands displaced as authorities battle with rising coronavirus cases.The torrential downpours across the densely populated region are critical to replenishing rivers and groundwater, but also cause widespread death and destruction.In India’s poorest state Bihar, home to 125 million people, 11 have died and at least four million have been affected by heavy rains, with homes and villages damaged.More than 300,000 villagers were evacuated to relief camps and officials warned of further cloudbursts in the next two days.The eastern state, which has a fragile healthcare system and has recorded more than 46,000 COVID-19 infections, entered a fresh two-week lockdown in mid-July as virus cases spiked.Officials fear the flooding could worsen the spread of the infectious disease.“Reaching out to flood victims and providing them help is not easy due to fear of the pandemic,” relief worker Mahendar Yadav said.In Assam, where at least 50 people have died in the past 10 days, floodwaters were receding as officials scrambled to help 1.5 million people whose homes and communities were damaged.More than 37,000 villagers remain in relief camps and special attention was being given to health-related issues, Assam Disaster Management Authority coordinator Pankaj Chakrarvarty told AFP.“It’s not always possible to maintain social distancing in the camps,” said one evacuee, Ranjit Rabha.“Thankfully, here in our camp, we don’t have any COVID-19 positive residents.”At Assam’s World Heritage-listed Kaziranga National Park, 143 animals have died so far, including 16 rare one-horned rhinos.India’s superstar cricket captain Virat Kolhi and Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma on Thursday pledged to support flood relief in Bihar and Assam.Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who was born in Bihar, also promised to donate to relief efforts.In Bangladesh, which is criss-crossed by rivers, 129 people have died from the floods and flood-linked illnesses, officials said.About one-third of the delta nation remains under water. The floods have dragged on for a month in what authorities said was the worst inundation since 2004.“The house is underwater, no food, not enough drinking water,” farmer Muzaffar Ali from northeastern Sunamganj district told AFP.“In this situation who cares about social distancing or wearing masks? I leave it to Allah. He will decide.”Nepal has been badly hit by landslides and floods, with at least 155 people killed and 57 missing since mid-June, according to the home ministry.“The threat of COVID-19 adds challenges for our rescue and search teams,” National Emergency Operation Centre chief Murari Wasti told AFP. The number of landslides has increased this year, with experts saying the massive 2015 earthquake and more road construction could be triggering the deadly slips.“The earthquake... it loosens the earth and heavy monsoon rains can cause disturbance. This year could be a cumulative effect,” geologist Basanta Raj Adhikari told AFP. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES India registers 50,000 new daily virus cases for the first time Jul 31, 2020 0 361 Muslim pilgrims scale Mount Arafat for peak of Hajj Jul 31, 2020 0 362 Philippines reports record daily high of coronavirus infections Jul 31, 2020 0 2085 Yemen’s rebels release Bahai leader previously condemned to death Sana’a Yemen’s rebels said on Thursday they had released the leader of the Bahai religious minority in the war-torn country, some seven years after he was detained. In March this year, a Yemeni court controlled by the .. Iran says jailed UK-Australian academic ‘in perfect health’ Tehran A British-Australian academic jailed in Iran is in “perfect health” and is going to meet Canberra’s envoy in Tehran next week, state news agency IRNA reported. Kylie Moore-Gilbert “is in perfect health and based .. Lebanon imposes new economic lockdown in bid to curb virus surge DPA Beirut Shops, banks and other businesses closed down across Lebanon on Thursday as part of new lockdown measures aimed at curbing a fresh surge in cases of the new coronavirus. Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi .. South Africa eases coronavirus curfew to help restaurant sector AFP Johannesburg South Africa is to ease its coronavirus curfew by an hour to help restaurants serve dinner, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said Thursday. Restaurants have been campaigning fiercely .. DR Congo launches mass vaccination against cholera Bukavu Health workers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have launched a bid to vaccinate more than a million people against cholera in five days after their region was hit by heavy floods. Immunisation teams have ..