DHAKA, Bangladesh – Workers and volunteers frantically stacked sandbags Sunday to protect the capital from rising water, while the death toll in India's (search) devastating floods (search) rose sharply when 139 bodies were washed up in eastern India.
The combined death toll in both countries rose to 762, with 535 fatalities in India. Twenty-five new deaths were reported Sunday in Bangladesh (search), where a total of 227 people have been killed by massive flooding.
Rivers around the capital, Dhaka, burst their banks, leaving 40 percent of the city of 10 million people under water.
Nearly two-thirds of Bangladesh — a delta nation of 140 million people — has been flooded since the start of the monsoon in late June. The floods, the worst since 1998, have affected about 20 million people, the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center said.
Most deaths have been due to drowning, lightning, waterborne diseases and electrocution from snapped power lines.
Hundreds of people from flooded parts of the capital took shelter in schools or offices. Some families pitched makeshift plastic and bamboo tents on sidewalks along busy streets.
Relief workers and volunteers stacked sandbags in a bid to stop water gushing through cracks in two main flood protection embankments to the west and southeast of Dhaka.
Transportation was disrupted, with two major highways and railroads linking the capital to the rest of the country, partially submerged. Many factories producing textiles — Bangladesh's main export — were closed as water swept into the plants.
Floods are common in Bangladesh, a low-lying deltaic plain crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers that flow from the Himalayas into the Bay of Bengal. In 1998, about 70 percent of the country was inundated for nearly three months.
In India, rescue workers have found 139 bodies in the last two days as flood waters receded, said Upendra Sharma, a flood relief official in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.
Army soldiers were dropping food packages and drinking water in the worst hit regions.