Published January 14, 2015
Flood-weakened riverbanks in South Asia collapsed around villages Saturday, pushing the death toll from this season's monsoons above 1,500 and stranding more than 30 million people in homes and schools, along highways and atop mud embankments, officials said.
As some floodwaters began receding, more bodies were found, raising the death toll from six weeks of monsoons in Bangladesh (search), India, Nepal and Pakistan to 1,509. The deaths have been caused by drowning, landslides, electrocution and waterborne diseases.
Water levels in overflowing rivers in Bangladesh began dropping Thursday, but the lower levels made the rivers flow faster, eroding riverbanks and earthen embankments weakened by being submerged for days.
Although some of Bangladesh's 250 rivers were receding, many were still above flood levels. Floodwater mixed with sewage has inundated nearly 40 percent of the capital, Dhaka, since last week.
It may take another week to drain the water because sewage outlets were blocked, the Water and Sewerage Authority (search) said.
The weather office in Dhaka said more rain was expected in the country's north this coming week.
In Madaripur district west of Dhaka, the Arial Kha River immersed about 200 homes, leaving more than 1,000 people homeless in recent days, relief workers said.
About 50 more homes disappeared into the Brahmaputra river over the past three days in Kurigram district, 150 miles from Dhaka, a government official said.
The latest reported deaths pushed the toll to 847 in India and 544 in Bangladesh, according official data compiled by The Associated Press.
Waterborne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery and typhoid — caused by drinking dirty floodwater — are compounding the misery in impoverished villages of eastern India and Bangladesh.
The annual monsoon usually lasts from mid-June to mid-October.