At least 7 die in Bangladesh floods

Catholic charity ready with relief operation in vulnerable districts
At least 7 die in Bangladesh floods

Rescuers search for bodies after a landslide caused by heavy flooding in Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh. (Photo by Zabed Iqbal Chowdhury)

At least seven people have been killed and tens of thousands left stranded after heavy monsoon rain, coupled with an onrush of upstream floodwater, triggered landslides and inundated various parts of Bangladesh.

Five people — including a child — died in a landslide on Monday in Cox’s Bazar district in the southeast of the country, Dr Kamar Uddin, the chief government medical officer said.

“Two other people died after being swept away by floodwater,” he said.

Heavy rain over the last few days has caused flooding in the district that has left about 300,000 people stranded, according to other government officials.

More than 100,000 people are cut off in three hill districts — Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari — after floodwaters left roads impassable.

“Our area has been cut off from the district town and other parts of the country due to flooding. People are worried because there is a shortage of food and drinking water,” said Qazi Rahel Tostori, chief government officer at Ruma sub-district of Bandarban.

“We have been offering food, medicine and cash to people, but we are facing difficulties in reaching some people because roads are either under water or have been blocked by landslides,” he added.

Poor people have been hit hardest by the flooding, says Oblate Father Samar Dango, parish priest at Lama Catholic Church in Bandarban.

“Flooding has destroyed their crops…. Many are starving,” the priest said.

 “Collecting drinking water from water sources down the hillside, sometime as far as 60 meters down, is always challenging. The situation has worsened due to rain and flooding,” Fr Dango added.

Catholic charity Caritas’s Chittagong regional office has started preliminary relief and rehabilitation efforts to aid flood victims.

“About 130,400 people have been affected by floods in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts. We are relocating vulnerable people from high-risk areas, so that there are no more casualties,” said James Gomes, Caritas Chittagong regional director.

“We are ready to reach people with relief material, but we need government permission to do so. Once we have permission and the rain stops, we will start sending out relief teams,” Gomes added.

Low-lying Bangladesh is vulnerable to natural disasters like flooding and cyclones, which kill hundreds of people every year.

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