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Bangladesh Braces for Flooding

July 21, 1999

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Relief workers struggled Wednesday to reach thousands of people marooned by floodwaters in Bangladesh, and experts warned that torrential monsoon rain could trigger more disastrous flooding this week.

There was no sign the rain would relent in the next few days, the Meteorological Department said Wednesday after two days of storms in which 14.6 inches of rain fell in the north, causing rivers in the Ganges, Brahmmaputra and Meghna basins to overflow and deluge dozens of villages.

``If the monsoon continues for the next two days, we fear the country will face a disaster,″ said Akthar Hossain, an expert at the state-run Flood Forecast and Warning Center in the capital, Dhaka.

Nearly 400,000 people have been marooned by floods, mainly in the country’s eastern and northern regions, relief workers said. The rivers have flooded 10 percent of the low-lying nation, claiming 19 lives and displacing 70,000 villagers.

Relief workers, their efforts hampered by lack of boats, struggled to reach flood victims with water purification tablets and dried food.

On Monday, a tornado ripped through two villages in northwestern Bangladesh, injuring at least 30 people and leaving another 2,000 homeless, police said.

Last year, floods inundated much of this delta nation, killing at least 1,500 people and washing away rice crops, roads and infrastructure worth $2 billion in three months. Bangladesh, a country the size of Wisconsin with a population of 125 million people, has yet to recover from last year’s losses.

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