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Sunderban villages at risk of being washed away by rising water levels

It was both sad and shocking to come across – a dead village. A year ago Bina Pani was home to 500 people but then the sea got in and killed it.

The village was on one of the islands strewn across the Sunderban, the biggest mangrove forest in the world.

Mangroves are the first line of defence. Credit: ITV News

The area is a delta straddling the border between India and Bangladesh. It’s where three great rivers, including the Ganges, flow into the Bay of Bengal.

Part of the Sunderban is a nature reserve that’s home to the biggest remaining population of Bengal tigers. But they, like the people, are watching their world disappear because of rising sea levels.

The Bay of Bengal rises 9mm annually thanks to global warming.

India has suffered from smog recently. Credit: ITV News

Chugging through the waterways on a boat we could see the effects everywhere – the erosion of the embankments that protect the island communities in the Sunderban.

The outlying mangroves are the first line of the defence, but they are being swept away by increasingly higher tides.

There's plenty of wildlife in the area. Credit: ITV News

En route we had travelled through Delhi, where the smog has been so bad for the last month you can barely see your hand in front of your face. When it comes to climate change and the causes, India is both victim and villain.

In the Sunderban the villages are idyllic. Rice paddies and palm trees. There are crystal clear ponds where lotus plants thrive. But a few yards away the sea is eating away at the embankment. Bina Pani won’t be the last former village here.