A man using an improvised flotation device in floodwaters in Liuzhou, Guangxi in July 2017. Photo: CNN

By Ben Westcott and Steve George
25 July 2017

(CNN) – Khorsheeda Khatun had been left with nothing – then that too was washed away.

The 28-year-old fled her home country of Myanmar in January with her two daughters, escaping the latest outbreak of violence, and was living in the Kutupalang Makeshift Settlement in Bangladesh when cyclone Mora arrived five months later and displaced up to 500,000 people.

"My house was shattered. It broke the wooden planks supporting my hut and blew away the polythene rooftop. The wind and water destroyed whatever little possessions we had," she told UNICEF workers in June.

Several weeks later, across the Himalayas in South China, over 12 million people were forced to flee their homes as flood waters rose for yet another year.

In China's southeastern Jiangxi province alone, flooding this year has so far caused $430 million in damages and economic losses. In neighboring Hunan province, 53,000 homes have been destroyed -- and the flooding has yet to fully recede.

Increasingly severe weather, triggered by climate change, is putting hundreds of millions of people at risk across the rapidly developing countries of southern Asia.

Rescue workers helping people on a flooded street in Loudi, Hunan province, in July 2017. Photo: CNN

"In the next 30 years, it is projected that heavy rainfall events will be increasing … in Asia, by about 20% for sure," climate scientist Dewi Kirono at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) told CNN.

Southern Asia is already the wettest area on the continent and one of the wettest regions in the world, receiving an average of at least 1000mm of rainfall a year.
As the rains fall harder, more than 137 million people in India, Bangladesh, and China will be put at risk of coastal or inland flooding, more people than in the rest of the Asia-Pacific combined, a study in 2012 found. [more]

Asia under water: How 137 million people's lives are being put at risk

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