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Death toll from South Asia flooding tops 1,000

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The death toll from floods sweeping South Asia has climbed above 1,000, officials said Thursday, as rescue teams try to reach millions stranded by the region's worst monsoon disaster in recent years.

Thousands of soldiers and emergency personnel have been deployed across India, Bangladesh and Nepal, where authorities say a total of 1,013 bodies have been recovered since August 10 when intense rainfall started falling.

All three countries suffer frequent flooding during the monsoon rains, but the Red Cross has termed the latest disaster the worst in decades in some parts of South Asia.

Indian residents wade through flood waters in Balurghat in West Bengal on August 17, 2017. (AFP-Yonhap)
Indian residents wade through flood waters in Balurghat in West Bengal on August 17, 2017. (AFP-Yonhap)

It says entire communities have been cut off and many are short of food and clean water.

"It has been a difficult year," said Anil Shekhawat, spokesman for India's national disaster response force.

"In the last few months there have been floods in western, eastern and northern parts of the country," Shekhawat told AFP. 

Twenty-six bodies were found Wednesday in Bihar, a hard-hit state in India's east, taking the death toll there to 367, said Anirudh Kumar, a top state disaster management official.

"We still have nearly 11 million people affected in 19 districts of the state," he told AFP, adding nearly 450,000 flood evacuees had taken shelter in government refuges.

In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, floods have swamped nearly half the vast state of 220 million, India's most populous.

Disaster management agency spokesman T.P. Gupta said 86 people had died and more than two million were affected by the disaster there.

The state borders Nepal, where 146 people have died and 80,000 homes destroyed in what the United Nations is calling the worst flooding in 15 years.

Nepal's home ministry warned the death toll could rise as relief teams reach more remote parts of the impoverished country.