A boatman rows in a flooded area in Moulvibazar district of Sylhet division in this 2010 file photo. Over the past week, flash floods have left tens of thousands of people stranded and destroyed about 50,000 hectares of rice crops in two districts in Sylhet. (Photo by ucanews.com)
Catholic charity Caritas is assessing the emergency needs of thousands of farmers after recent flooding devastated thousands of hectares of agricultural land in northeastern Bangladesh.
Flash floods triggered by heavy rain and hailstorms, ravaged over 100 villages in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, in the past week.
Floodwaters submerged hundreds of homes, left more 100,000 villagers stranded and damaged about 50,000 hectares of rice crops at the start of the harvest season.
"The paddy was ready for harvest when the flooding hit. This is a big loss for farmers as they rely largely on rice production for their livelihood," said Krishna Chandra, additional director of the state-run Agricultural Extension Department in Sylhet.
The damage was exacerbated by the local government's failure to repair broken dikes, according to media reported quoting local farmers.
Caritas Sylhet, which covers four districts in the region, has been assessing the situation for emergency relief for victims.
"We have sent a primary situation report to our national office in Dhaka and are waiting for the green light for further assessment or immediate relief distribution to victims," said John Montu Palma, Caritas Sylhet regional director.
"We will figure out which areas are most affected and what sort of support people need," Palma added.
The government is monitoring the situation to assist villagers and victim farmers, officials from the Disaster Management Department said.
"Usually, we have a fund allocated in advance at district level for emergency disaster response. We are tracking the situation and will provide more funds once if needed," said Jahirul Haque, a deputy director at the department.
Low-lying Bangladesh is vulnerable to natural disasters like flooding, storms, tidal surges and cyclones.
Flooding is a common natural calamity that kills hundreds of people and destroys millions of tons of crops annually.