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US Forecasters Warn of Heavy Rains, Floods as Hurricane Barry Weakens

Barry was the second named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until Nov. 30

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Crews clear debris from Highway 23 during storm Barry in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, July 14, 2019. Barry made landfall as a hurricane, but then was downgraded, first to a tropical storm, and then to a tropical depression. VOA

States along the southern part of the Mississippi River are receiving heavy rains as what is left of a hurricane that hit the U.S. Gulf Coast moves farther inland. Forecasters expect the remnants of Hurricane Barry to drop 7 to 15 centimeters of additional rain on parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi, with isolated areas seeing higher totals.

They warned of the threat of flash floods from heavy thunderstorms and multiple bands of showers moving through the same area. Barry made landfall in Louisiana Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, sparing New Orleans from a direct hit, but knocking out power and bringing floods to other parts of the state.

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Barry was the second named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until Nov. 30. Pixabay

No serious injuries or major damage have been reported. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told reporters Sunday, “We’re thankful that the worst-case scenario did not happen.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Louisiana ahead of the storm, authorizing federal funds to help local officials cope with whatever storm recovery is needed. Barry was the second named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until Nov. 30. (VOA)

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Heavy Rains, Overflowing Rivers Force 400K People in Bangladesh to Flee from their Homes

At least 30 people have been killed since the floods began last week

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People move along a flooded road in Gaibandha, Bangladesh July 18, 2019. VOA

Rain-swollen rivers in Bangladesh broke through at least four embankments, submerging dozens of villages and doubling the number of people fleeing their homes overnight to 400,000 in one of the worst floods in recent years, officials said Friday.

Heavy rains and overflowing rivers have swamped 23 districts in northern and northwestern Bangladesh, officials said. At least 30 people have been killed since the floods began last week.

“The government has opened more than 1,000 temporary shelters but due to deep waters and lack of communications, many people aren’t able to reach them,” Raihana Islam, an official in the flood-afflicted district of Bogra, told Reuters.

Islam said scores of people had instead camped on embankments, railway lines and highways, where traffic has come to a standstill. Aside from concern over crops, authorities are also worried that rising flood waters could take a toll on livestock.

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At least 30 people have been killed since the floods began last week. Pixabay

Flooding severe

South Asia receives monsoon rains between June and October that often lead to floods later in the season, but the intensity of the deluge in Bangladesh is uncommon. “The severity of the flood of this year is worse compared to recent years,” Ariful Islam, an executive engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board, said.

The floods worsened after three embankments on the Brahmaputra river, which flows down from the Himalayas, through northeastern India and into Bangladesh, gave way late Thursday, said Mohammad Moniruzzaman, an official in the federal agriculture ministry.

“The onrush of water submerged a vast area along with several dozen villages,” he told Reuters.

Millions displaced in India

In the neighboring Indian state of Assam, floods on the Brahmaputra and its tributaries since last week displaced some 5.8 million people, but the situation has improved with waters receding, a state minister said.

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Water levels were also coming down in the northern Indian state of Bihar, where floods have killed at least 78 people. VOA

“While some people have started going back to their homes, about 70% continue to remain in makeshift relief camps,” Assam Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta said.

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Water levels were also coming down in the northern Indian state of Bihar, where floods have killed at least 78 people. “We are now taking measures to prevent outbreak of any disease,” Manish Kumar, the emergency officer at Bihar’s worst flood-hit district of Sitamarhi, told Reuters.

Two people died in Sri Lanka and five were missing because of heavy rain that forced hundreds to flee their homes across the island nation, the state-run Disaster Management Center said. The central districts of Nuwara Eliya and Ratnapura were the worst affected. (VOA)