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Natural disasters

Death toll in Bangladesh, India floods rises to 42

Dhaka searches for millions stranded by nation's worst monsoon disaster in years

People wade through flooding as they search for shelter in northeastern Bangladesh on June 18.   © Reuters

DHAKA/ASSAM, India (Reuters) -- At least 25 people were killed by lightning or landslides over the weekend in Bangladesh while millions were left marooned or homeless in low-lying northeastern parts hit by the worst monsoon floods in the country's recent history, officials said.

In the neighboring Indian state of Assam, at least 17 people were killed during the wave of flooding that began this month, police officials said on Sunday.

Many of Bangladesh's rivers have risen to dangerous levels, and the runoff from heavy rain from across Indian mountains exacerbated the situation, said Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, the head of the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center.

Thousands of police and army personnel have been deployed to parts of the country to help search and rescue efforts.

About 105,000 people have been evacuated so far, but police officials estimated that over 4 million were still stranded.

Syed Rafiqul Haque, a former lawmaker and ruling party politician in the Sunamganj district, said the country was facing a humanitarian crisis if proper rescue operations were not conducted.

"Almost the entire Sylhet-Sunamganj belt is under water, and millions of people are stranded," he said, adding victims have no food or drinking water and communication networks were down.

Regional officials said about 3.1 million people were displaced, 200,000 of whom are staying in government-run makeshift shelters on raised embankments or on other highlands.

Bangladesh and India have experienced increasing extreme weather in recent years, causing large-scale damage.

Environmentalists warn climate change could lead to more disasters, especially in low-lying and densely populated Bangladesh.

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