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Millions stranded in Asia

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | July 15, 2002

More than two million people in Bangladesh were stranded Monday and more than 1.4 million in the Philippines were affected by weeklong monsoon flooding.

Faith-based relief groups reported that, in Bangladesh, hundreds of houses were washed away, and emergency teams were trying Monday to help people cope with illness from contaminated water. Crops and livestock damage was devastating, according to government reports.

On Monday rivers continued to break their banks, inundating village after village in the northern region.

Bangladesh government reports indicated at least 2,000 people were homeless in the Gaibandha district, 120 miles north of Dhaka. At least 300 mud-and-straw huts were swept away in the Nilphamari district, leaving another 1,500 people displaced. Some 100,000 villagers were stranded in Sirajganj, 65 miles northwest of the capital, Dhaka.

Most of the northern Philippines was swamped as well, and faith leaders there appealed for worldwide prayer. The province of Bataan, north of Manila, was hard hit. More than 22,000 people were still in emergency shelters Monday.

Floods have also affected some 700,000 people in India, particularly in Assam state where the flooded Brahmaputra River damaged roads and crops. By Monday the water was receding there.

Meanwhile Japan is still recovering from Tropical Storm Chata'an -- downgraded from super typhoon status. The storm hit last week after slamming the Philippines, Micronesia, and Guam.

Then two other storms moving through the region dumped more heavy rain on already-saturated Guam and nearby Marianas.

Guam was declared a federal disaster area after Chata'an dumped eight inches of rain there, forcing some 1,700 people to evacuate. Then the typhoon brought winds of 90 mph.

But Micronesia was hit even harder. There the typhoon killed more than 50 people and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews reach the outer islands. Crews still could not reach the outer islands over the weekend because communications were still down and the waves were too high. In Miconesia, the island of Chuuk -- some 600 miles southeast of Guam -- bore the brunt of the storm. More than 30 landslides covered about 1,500 homes.

"As rescue efforts continue, there is an urgent need for fresh water, food, and medical supplies," said Johnny Wray, who coordinates Week of Compassion, a giving program administered by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Week of Compassion was working with the

East Asia and Pacific Office in Common Global Ministries to help with relief efforts in Micronesia.

On Guam, high winds damaged schools and also Guam Memorial Hospital. Downed power lines and telephone lines were still being repaired over the weekend. The entire island was initially without electricity, leaving many villagers with no water, according to the Guam Power Authority.

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