Bangladesh flood toll climbs

More 100 lives have been lost in the latest flooding and further monsoon hardship is expected
Bangladesh flood toll climbs

Boatmen on full-to-the-brim Piayin River at Sylhet district of northeastern Bangladesh on July 23. Monsoon rain triggered flooding in most major rivers in the country killing about 114 people and displacing millions. (Photo by Rock Ronald Rozario/   

Monsoon flooding in Bangladesh has left a trail of devastation claiming at least 114 lives.

Thousands have been injured or made ill and vast areas of crops have been destroyed.

During the past 17 days, deaths have been attributed to drowning, landslides, lightning strikes, snakebites and water-borne diseases, according to the latest report from state-run Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

More than 14,000 people became ill with various diseases including diarrhea, skin problems, eye inflammations and respiratory tract infections, the report said.

Bangladesh's Disaster Management and Relief Ministry estimates that flooding has affected about 6.1 million people in 28 out of a total of 64 districts in the low-lying nation so far this year.

The ministry said on July 28 that a total of 677,000 hectares of cropland had been badly affected or destroyed in the most recent flooding.

In addition, about 566,000 homes were wiped-out or damaged and many roads have been cut.

Officials said the latest flooding destroyed 42 educational institutions and damaged 4,857 others.

Dr. Enamur Rahman, state minister for Disaster Management and Relief, said provision of humanitarian assistance is ongoing.

The government has allocated 47.1 million Taka (US$558,000), 27,350 tones of rice, 11.3 million packets of dry food, 8,500 tents and 3,900 bundles of corrugated iron sheets for affected people, he said.

Various aid agencies, including the Catholic charity Caritas, have also been supporting flood victims.

In Bandarban, one of the worst flood-hit districts of the forested south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region, Caritas has started distributing "unconditional cash" handouts to affected families.

Some 2,100 families were getting emergency support equivalent to about $US59, with extra for families who have sick or disabled members.

Sukleash George Costa, acting regional director of Caritas Rajshahi in northern Bangladesh, said cash payments as well as rice and other staples had been provided to families.

According to the Bangladesh Water Development Board, water levels have dropped in all major rivers in the past few days, leading to a significant reduction in flooding.

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However, Pintu William Gomes, of Caritas, fears that that further monsoon rains will cause more hardship.

"Heavy raining and flooding in upstream Indian states have continued," he noted, adding that the monsoon season in Bangladesh runs from June through to September.  

Bangladesh is located on floodplains that empty into the Bay of Bengal, making it vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and landslides.

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