200,000 marooned in northern Bangladesh floods

July 30, 2007 - 0:0

DHAKA (AFP) -- At least 200,000 people have been marooned in northern Bangladesh, as monsoon rains and snow melt from the Himalayas hit the flood-prone nation, state-run media said.

The military has begun to evacuate people and distribute relief as major rivers burst their banks and inundated low areas in the north, the state-run BSS news agency said. Unconfirmed reports said at least 10 people have so far died of drowning and snake-bites in the area. Last month, landslides triggered by heavy rains killed at least 126 people in southeastern city of Chittagong on the bay of Bengal. The government's flood forecasting and warning center said the situation could worsen in the next few days as major monsoon and Himalayan-glacier fed rivers -- the Ganges and the Brahmaputra that flow through Bangladesh -- are expected to crest. The Brahmaputra, the source of two-thirds of river water in the country, was flowing at least 25 centimetres (one foot) above danger levels, the center said. Bangladesh is crisscrossed by a network of 230 rivers and suffers annual floods with at least a fifth of the country inundated each year. In July and August in 2004 flooding left more than 700 people dead and 38 percent of the country submerged, forcing millions to flee their homes