A boy on a raft rows through the flooded bamboo houses at Ryerbazar in the capital Dhaka, August 21, 2007. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman
PATNA, India (Reuters) - Residents in eastern India complained on Wednesday about the smell of corpses floating in flood waters as the toll from widespread monsoon flooding in South Asia rose by 68 overnight.
Close to 1,800 people have died from drowning, house collapses, snakebite and waterborne diseases in the densely populated and largely impoverished region since July, as heavy monsoon rains caused numerous rivers to burst their banks.
Millions of people are living in miserable conditions -- many of them homeless or stranded on crowded embankments -- with relief operations patchy in many areas.
Some parts of eastern India and Bangladesh have remained flooded for weeks, causing a spike in waterborne diseases.
In India's eastern region, at least 300,000 people were suffering from diarrhoea and other waterborne illnesses, with complaints that authorities were not doing enough to assist them.
In the impoverished Indian state of Bihar, residents and officials said dozens of bodies could be seen floating in flood waters in the worst-hit districts.
"The unbearable stench of rotting corpses floating in the water has made us sick," Anupiya Devi, a resident of Samastipur district, told reporters.
Authorities said many bodies were yet to be identified.