NEW DELHI -- Each year, the monsoon clouds roll across South Asia and killer floods follow.
With this year's flooding especially calamitous in India -- more than a 1,200 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes -- specialists are blaming the government for failing to strengthen embankments, build needed dams, and come up with evacuation plans.
They point to neighboring Bangladesh, a much poorer country where years of preparations helped reduce the scope of this year's suffering.
After devastating floods in 1998 killed 2,379 people and left three-quarters of Bangladesh under water, officials took action.
Flood walls were built around the capital Dhaka, and a network of mud embankments was erected to protect villages.
A permanent flood warning center was set up to issue regular bulletins informing people about the water level in the rivers.
This year's flooding still killed 192 people in Bangladesh.
But specialists say it could have been worse, noting that a new pilot system to help forecast floods gave thousands of people time to evacuate.
"Our goal is that long-range flood forecasts, for the first time, will consistently reach many rural individuals in Bangladesh who are in jeopardy of losing their homes, businesses, and possibly their lives," said Thomas Hopson, a scientist with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, which helped devise the system.
No such system exists in India, where a broad swath of fertile land stretching along the southern edge of the Himalayas was inundated, displacing an estimated 14 million people in this country of 1.1 billion.
UNICEF said in a statement that millions of malnourished children, the most vulnerable to diseases and infections, are at risk after being stranded by flooding.
With the waters finally receding in the country, the recriminations are rising.
"This calamity is the result of the state government's callousness and the extensive damage shows criminal neglect on its part," said Rabri Devi, the head of the opposition in Bihar, an eastern state that was hardest hit in large part because it was the least prepared.