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Aid agencies warn of humanitarian crisis in flood hit South Asia

More than 16 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have been impacted by the worst flooding to hit South Asia in many years. Aid agencies are warning of hunger, disease and more deaths.

Monsoon flooding across South Asia is rapidly turning into the worst humanitarian crisis to hit the region in more than a decade, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned Friday.

"This is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years and urgent action is needed to meet the growing needs of millions of people affected by these devastating floods," said Martin Faller, deputy regional director for Asia Pacific at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Read: Climate change could make South Asia too hot for human survival by 2010

Heavy monsoon rains have killed nearly 400 people across Bangladesh, India and Nepal, according to officials and aid organizations. In India, there have been 239 fatalities, in Nepal 128 deaths and another 39 in Bangladesh.

Two men use a canoe to reach a school being used as a shelter for families impacted by flooding in the India's northeastern state of Assam.

Two men use a canoe to reach a school being used as a shelter for families impacted by flooding in the India's northeastern state of Assam.

About one-third of Bangladesh and Nepal have been flooded. Flooding in low-lying and densely populated Bangladesh is expected to increase as rains continue and water arrives from upstream in Nepal and India. Flood levels in the poor nation of 163 million people have already reached record highs.

Bangladesch Überflutungen

Low-lying Bangaladesh is expected to experience even higher water levels in the coming days.

"Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters," Faller said.

Flooding has destroyed crops, damaged roads and triggered mudslides across the region. The risk of hunger for millions of people has been heightened as aid shipments to rural communities have been hampered by damaged infrastructure.

Watch video 05:55

Fighting flooding

cw/kms (dpa, Reuters)

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