• Thursday, Nov 21, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:50 am

Thousands marooned as disaster strikes flood-prone areas

  • Published at 02:18 am July 12th, 2019
Floods-Dhaka Tribune
People wade through a flooded Tahirpur-Sunamganj road in Lalpur, Sunamganj sadar yesterday as vehicles can no longer run on the roads through the water Dhaka Tribune

Violent surge of hill stream claimed the life of an elderly woman in Rangamati

Six days of heavy downpour and onrush of upstream waters have flooded low-lying regions and char areas in close proximity of major rivers across Bangladesh. 

Around 100,000 people across north and north eastern districts have become victims of the recurring landslides and rising water levels of major rivers, making them stranded, water-logged, as well as risking them of water-borne diseases. 

They are in need of immediate rehabilitation and relief as well. The flood significantly affected the cultivable lands as seedbeds, maize and other vegetable croplands have been completely inundated.

In Rangamati, an elderly woman died by a violent surge of hill stream in Barkal upazila.

The deceased Bijuram Chakma, 67, resident of Bhushanchara union, was swept away when she was securing her cow to a pole.

Locals recovered her dead body trapped between some rocks down the hill two-hours later.

More than 200 homes were inundated in the Baghaichhari upazila due to the rise in the Kachalong River coupled with a landslide and persistent rainfall.

The district administration distributed dry foods and clean drinking water to the affected areas.

The upazila administration has set up 24 shelters where 250 families have already been shifted. 

A portion of the Chittagong-Rangamati road near Ghagra’s Kalabagan area collapsed due to the torrential downpour; a landslide and culvert collapse halted communication on the Rangamati-Bandarban road. 

Rangamati Deputy Commissioner AKM Mamunur Rashid inspected the damages on the affected roads and directed necessary repairs.

The disaster has severely affected the Sunamganj district in Sylhet. The rising water level of the major rivers has inundated the low-lying areas of Sadar, Tahirpur, Dowarabazar, Bishambharpur and Jamalganj upazilas.

The swelling Surma, Jadukata, Rokti, Boulai, Kangsha and several other rivers have submerged settlements and roads in adjacent areas near the India-Bangladesh border due to heavy rainfall and onrush of hilly water. Around 12,800 homes in the five upazilas have been breached by flood water, said Sunamganj Relief and Rehabilitation Officer Md Fazlur Rahman.

In the Fatehpur union of the Bishambharpur upazila, at least 50,000 people in 48 villages are marooned with around 1,200 homes flooded, said Union Council Chairman Ranajit Chandra Rajon.

The flood has also swept away fish from fish enclosures and domestic animals from barns, adding woes to the already helpless farmers in these regions.

According to the Sunamganj Water Development Board, the Surma River at Shologhor point was flowing 97cm above the danger level at 3pm on Thursday.

The authorities also recorded a rainfall of 168mm in the last 24 hours till 8pm on Thursday.

Academic activities in schools suspended

District Primary Education Officer Md Zillur Rahman said: “With the safety of the children in mind, we have suspended all academic activities of 95 government primary schools in 9 upazilas.”

District Secondary Education Officer Md Jahangir Alam said: “The flood water has breached 50 secondary schools in five upazilas.” 

Md Abu Bakar Siddique, executive engineer at the Water Development Board, said: "The heavy rain, coupled with the upstream waters, has raised water levels of the rivers and haors submerging the adjacent areas.” 

According to Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre, the district is expected to see similar rainfall in the next 72 hours. 

Md Fazlur Rahman said a total of 300 metric tons of rice and 1,265 packets of dry food have been supplied to the flood affected people of the 11 upazilas.  

"Every family will get 30kg of rice. An additional 200 tons of rice and Tk3 lakh have been kept in stock."

In Jamalpur, five villages in the Bokshiganj upazila have been flooded, when a landslide caused by excessive rainfall caused a dam to collapse in the Dhanua Kamalpur union. 

After the dam failed on Wednesday, five villages in the union were flooded.

Bakshiganj upazila Nirbahi officer Dewan Md Tazul Islam said: “The flood protection dam suddenly collapsed and flooded 20 ponds, two fish enclosures, and numerous seedbeds. The dam soon needs to be repaired; otherwise more regions will be inundated.”

In Lalmonirhat, the Teesta River is flowing 2cm above the danger level (52.6cm) around 8pm on Thursday, which is feared to go up to 10-20cm above the danger level, said authorities at local WBD.

In Nilphamari, the Teesta is flowing 20cm above the danger point (52.6cm), said WDB sources.

To avert flood-related casualties, the WBD has opened all 44 sluice gates of the Teesta Barrage.

The rise of the Teesta has flooded nearby regions and waterlogged a few thousand people. Normal life is hampered as clean water and food become scarce in the entire flood affected areas.

In Kurigram, major rivers are steadily rising with the onrush of upstream water, and if the situation continues, these rivers will cross the danger level, said local WDB sources.  

Incessant rainfall has flooded seedbeds, maize, and other vegetables in the low-lying areas and char areas in the vicinity. 

Our correspondents Himadri Shaker Bhodra, Sunamganj; Ariful Islam, Kurigram; Moazzem Hossain, Lalmonirhat; Taiyeb Ali Sarker, Nilphamari; Bishwajit Deb, Jamalpur; and Bijoy Dhar, Rangamati contributed to this report