Floods caused by days of rain have killed three people and left up to 22,000 others homeless along riverbanks in Suriname's remote central lowlands, officials said Thursday.

Suriname's Red Cross said at least three people died while the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that high waters forced up to 22,000 people from their homes.

Suriname, which declared the flooded areas disaster zones and has appealed for international help, has started a massive distribution of supplies amid criticism that the relief effort was slow to start.

Officials said, however, that they have been hampered by damage to roads, airstrips and other parts of the South American nation's infrastructure.

Authorities expect the flooding to worsen since heavy rains were forecast for the next few days. May is the beginning of the rainy season in Suriname, home to about 440,000 people.

CountryWatch: Suriname