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Monsoon rains battering Asia cause devastating floods and landslides

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New Delhi (dpa) - Heavy monsoon rains continued to batter Asia on Thursday, causing devastating floods and landslides in much of the south and eastern parts of the region, and threatening the spread of disease.
The death toll from floods in India's northeast touched 119 Thursday, with the deaths of six people in landslides triggered by heavy rains in Assam state, news reports said.

At least 50 people have died in the state of Assam, 64 in Bihar and 5 in Arunachal Pradesh, while millions of villagers in the three states are marooned without food and water, according to the UNI news agency.

The toll may rise with reports from Bihar saying 30 people were feared drowned after their overloaded boat capsized on the Bagmati river.

The army and air force have been brought in to help with rescue operations and have been dropping essential supplies by air.

The death toll from rain-driven floods in Bangladesh on Thursday rose to 57, while three million were made homeless by the worst deluge to hit the country in 16 years.

Hundreds of soldiers and civil defence rescuers battled in a futile attempt to stop a river dam from crumbling, but a hundred people from newly-flooded villages were washed away, officials said.

The army was called out to help rescue workers evacuate to higher ground about 5,000 families living near the collapsing dam in northern Bogra district.

Local officials coordinating rescue operations in the area said about 100 people remained missing after the rain-swollen Brahmaputra river smashed the 300 metre long embankment, sweeping away eight mudflat villages.

New casualties were reported from the flood wrecked northern district of Sirajganj, where a river dyke earlier gave way to gushing waters that washed away eight people, including four children, rescue workers said.

In the worst affected province, the northeastern province of Sylhet, rivers continued to overflow, leaving tens of thousands of families stranded on hundreds of tiny islands created by the deluge, the Disaster Management Office said.

Local Red Crescent (Cross) officials said they were running out of supplies of fresh water and dry food for distribution to distressed people sheltered in makeshift flood relief camps that have been set up in shuttered schools and government buildings.

"We have placed emergency orders with (the capital) Dhaka for tents, biscuits and water purifying tablets,'' said relief coordinator Zafar Siddique in the tea growing Sunamganj district of Sylhet, which borders India's northeastern Assam state.

About a million people who were made homeless by the rising Surma and Kushiyara rivers were huddled together in overcrowded flood shelters in Sunamganj district, threatening to spread disease, western aid workers said.

In Nepal, at least 22 more people were killed Wednesday in floods and landslides across the Himalayan kingdom, bringing the death toll from flood-related deaths to more than 100, the independent Kantipur FM radio reported Thursday.

The radio, quoting latest reports from the districts, said at least 15 people were killed in landslides in Okhaldunga district, about 150 kilometres east of the capital, Wednesday. The radio also reported that at least six people were missing.

East and central Nepal experienced incessant rains for a week beginning July 7 and the rains left behind a trail of destruction and devastation, mainly in the mountains and in low lying plains bordering the Indian states of West Bengal and Bihar.

According to officials, a large number of houses were destroyed and thousands were rendered homeless by the floods and landslides. The government also said that the rains washed away or damaged bridges on major highways, affecting traffic.

In East Asia, ten people died and two remain missing in floods in Japan which have been inundating the country's northern prefectures of Niigata and Fukushima since early this week, police said.

Many people returned home Thursday as water levels decreased in areas that were affected by flooding, but about 6,000 remained at evacuation centres in schools and other public facilities, police said.

Levees along rivers in several towns in Niigata gave way Tuesday afternoon and more than 20,000 houses were flooded. Helicopters lifted people from roofs and other high places in flooded areas while rescue boats also helped rescue stranded residents.

Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that officials in Sanjyo city in Niigata gave an evacuation order to residents near the Igarashi River's south side after a nearby levee collapsed. However, the order came too late and four people living in the area died.

China reported nine more deaths in rainstorms and landslides on Thursday, as Tropical Storm Kompasu closed in on the southeastern coast.

Five people died and 14 were injured, eight of them seriously, after a violent thunderstorm hit a mountain village in northern China's Hebei province, state media said.

As swollen rivers and heavy rain threaten new floods and landslides in many areas of China, the state meteorological office warned that Tropical Storm Kompasu was likely to hit southeastern coastal areas in Guangdong and Fujian provinces early Friday.

Some 320 people have died in floods, landslides and other weather-related disasters this summer, according to government and state media reports.

In the southern region of Guangxi, which borders Guangdong, the death toll on Thursday rose to four dead and two missing after floods this week.

Neighbouring Hong Kong also braced itself for Tropical Storm Kompasu. A storm alert signal was raised Thursday morning and was expected to be heightened Friday morning as the storm moved to within 500 kilometres of the territory.

Weathermen warned of high winds and heavy rains as the storm edges closer to Hong Kong over the next two days. The storm already dumped heavy rain on southern Taiwan before switching course and heading towards Hong Kong Friday morning. dpa su af sb ck bs dc eu

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