Geneva, Switzerland (BBN) – More than three million people have been uprooted and 60 people killed by the worst flooding to hit north-east India in five decades, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Tuesday.

The flooding began when heavy monsoon rains caused a dam to break, breaching the eastern embankment of the Kosi River, which straddles the India-Nepal border.

The Sunsari district of Nepal, where 70,000 people have been displaced, and 16 districts in India’s Bihar state – one of the country’s poorest – have been the areas struck hardest, a UN press statement said.

The Kosi River appears to have altered its course, flooding areas of Bihar not prone to inundation and damaging over 220,000 houses.

The WHO expressed concern over the possibility of the spread of communicable diseases.

Working together with the Indian Ministry of Health, WHO is supplying 100 chloroscopes to assess water quality and is raising awareness on measles immunization.

In Nepal, the agency has sent enough medicine to treat over 120,000 people for one month. It has also dispatched anti-malaria and anti-diarrhea supplies.

UN agencies have appealed for more than $5 million for relief needs in Nepal for activities such as providing food, shelter and hygiene kits.

BBN/SI/SI/AD-03Suptember08-9:01 AM