At least 950 killed in South Asia's annual monsoon floods

PATNA, INDIA: Devastating floods triggered by seasonal monsoon rains have killed more than 950 people and affected close to 40 million across northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh, officials said Thursday.

The rains have led to wide-scale flooding in a broad arc stretching across the Himalayan foothills in the three countries, causing landslides, damaging roads and electric towers and washing away tens of thousands of homes and crops.

The northern Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam in the remote northeast are the worst hit, accounting for 680 deaths, most of them from drowning, snake bites or landslides.

South Asia's monsoon rains run from June to September.

Disaster management authorities in Bihar said the state's death toll of 367 could go up further as floodwaters recede and bodies are recovered from submerged houses.

Crops on more than 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of land have been washed away while another 600,000 hectares (1,482,600 acres) have been damaged, posing a serious threat to food production, the ministry said Thursday.

The UN World Food Program said that Bangladesh was at risk of "devastating hunger" after major floods that destroyed crops, homes and livelihoods of people across many impoverished areas in a delta nation of 160 million people.

"Many flood survivors have lost everything: their homes, their possessions, their crops," Christa Rader, WFP's Bangladesh country director, said in a statement. "People need food right now, and the full impact on longer-term food security threatens to be devastating."

Nepal's Home Ministry spokesman Ram Krishna Subedi said floodwaters were receding and rivers were returning to normal.

The death toll from the floods in Nepal stood at 146, with about 30 missing.