Millions left homeless and dozens killed as heavy rains hit India and Bangladesh

Pre-monsoon downpours have washed away train stations, towns and villages

Heavy pre-monsoon rains in India and Bangladesh have washed away train stations, towns and villages, leaving millions of people homeless as extreme weather events, including heatwaves, intense rainfall and floods, become more common in South Asia.

More than 60 people have been killed in the two countries in days of flooding, landslides and thunderstorms that have left many people without food and drinking water and have isolated them by cutting off the internet, according to officials. The devastation in India's northeast, one of the worst affected regions, has submerged railway tracks, bridges and roads. In the remote state of Assam, 31 of its 33 districts have been affected by floods, impacting the lives of more than 700,000 people, officials said on Saturday. At least 18 people have died in the state because of floods and landslides, according to news reports.

At least 33 people were killed in the neighbouring state of Bihar by lightning strikes and heavy rain in its 16 districts, Nitish Kumar, Bihar chief minister, said on Friday. Climate scientists have said that India and Bangladesh are vulnerable to climate change because of their proximity to the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, which are increasingly experiencing heatwaves. The rising sea temperatures have led to "a significant increase in rainfall" in some areas, according to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.

On Sunday, India’s meteorological department warned of “thunderstorms with lightning and very heavy rainfall” in many parts of the northeast where the Brahmaputra river has inundated vast areas of agricultural land, villages and towns over the past couple of weeks.

The floodwaters have arrived with fury in Bangladesh, a low-lying nation of about 170 million people. About 2 million people have been affected in the Sylhet region, in the country's east, officials said. "We haven't seen such a widespread flood in Sylhet for around two decades," said SM Shahidul Islam, a chief engineer of the Bangladesh Water Development Board. At least 10 people have been killed in the region, officials said. "We still are working to see if there are more casualties," said Mosharraf Hossain, the top official in the region. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times