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Dhaka Tribune

Eight dead, over 1 million affected in floods

Authorities expect the situation to improve within a few days

Update : 16 Jul 2020, 10:59 PM

About 1.2 million in people in the country are marooned or left their homes for higher ground as floods continue to worsen.

So far, eight people have died, the government said on Thursday before adding they expect the situation to improve within a few days. 

“We feared a lengthy flood this year but the water level of Brahmaputra, Surma, and Dharla rivers have started receding,” said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman.

The flood started as some rivers had started to swell from June 26-27and the water levels started recede around July 6-7, only to rise again from July 11, according to him. 

“It would take a few days for the water to recede,” added the state minister.

Of the eight deaths, four were reported from Jamalpur while one each from Lalmonirhat, Sunamganj, Sylhet and Tangail, said Rahman.

However, Dhaka Tribune correspondents reported at least 14 deaths by drowning in Jamalpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Moulvibazar, and Narsingdi on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Speaking at a media call on Thursday, State Minister Rahman assured that the government was fully prepared in case the flood lasts longer.

“We have enough aid material including rice, cash, dry food, food for children, and cattle fodder in our stock,” he said.

According to him, the flood will not last longer “if there is no rainfall upstream [in different states of India]”.

The state minister said: “So far, more than 30,000 people took shelter in 1,544 shelter centres in 12 districts. More than 56,000 cattle were also taken to the shelter centres. We distributed 4,850 tons of rice and Tk1.9 crore to the affected community, Cattle fodder worth Tk21 lakh has been distributed along with the same amount for food for children.”

“We have 2,461 metric ton rice, and 16,800 packets of dry food in stock,” he added.

He said: “About 535 unions of 92 upazilas in 18 districts have been affected so far in this year’s flood.”

Nearly 1.2 million affected in four districts

About 1.2 million people have been adversely affected with the flood situation worsening further in Jamalpur, Sirajganj, Kurigram and Gaibandha until yesterday.

In Jamalpur, around 600,000 people remain marooned as a result of the worsening flood conditions in the district.

Although relief goods have been allocated for the flood affected people in six municipalities and 50 unions under seven upazilas, local leaders say that it is not adequate to meet the current demand.

The Jamuna was flowing 129cm and 39cm respectively above the danger mark at the Bahadurabad Ghat point and Jagannathganj ghat point until 9am on Thursday.

Woman wades through floodwater carrying her infant near her residence in Kurigram's Ulipur upazila on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 | Collected

Jamalpur Water Development Board (WDB) Executive Engineer Abu Sayeed confirmed the matter.

Meanwhile, different points along the 50-metre-stretch of the Mahishbathan-Mahmudpur embankment in Madarganj upazila have been breached, keeping locals in 10 more villages under the threat of floods.

In Sirajganj, around 215,000 people of 47,217 thousand families in 214 villages had been affected as the flood situation worsened, said Abdur Rahim, the district's relief and rehabilitation officer.

Altogether 187 houses and 35 educational institutions were partially or completely damaged in those areas. Moreover, 14,013 hectares of farmland had been inundated.

As the distribution of Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) rice was already ongoing in the district, additional relief – which is generally negligible in amount – had not been allocated for the flood-affected, sources said.

In Kurigram, Rowmari Upazila Parishad Chairman Sheikh Abdullah said: "Around 200,000 people have been marooned in the upazila. There is no alternative but to increase the amount of relief support for the flood affected.”

In Gaibandha, all the major rivers have been flowing above the danger mark due to incessant rains and hill waters upstream of Bangladesh, triggering floods that left 25,000 more people marooned on Thursday.

About 150,000 people in 26 unions under four upazilas of the  district are now marooned.

Gaibandha WDB Executive Engineer Md Mokhlesur Rahman said due to the abnormal water level rise, the embankment by the Brahmaputra River at two points in Phulchari upazila and the embankment by the Ghagot River at two points in Sadar upazila were threatened with collapse.

During a spot visit, Dhaka Tribune found the water has been passing over the embankment near the Gaibandha-Saghata regional road, pushing several sluice gates to the threat of collapse.

If the embankment is breached, road communications between Gaibandha Sadar and Saghata upazilas will be severed.

Locals are trying to protect the embankment by dropping geo sandbags, which are supposed to reduce the strength of river currents, thus decreasing the water pressure.

‘Flood situation to improve’

The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) at 9am on Thursday said the water level of Brahmaputra remained unchanged but would start falling in the next 48 hours. The rising trend of the Jamuna river water will stop in the next 48 hours, though the water level of the river is rising now.

Moreover, the water level of all the rivers, except for the Kushiara in the upper Meghna basin of the north-eastern region of the country, has been falling continuously and this falling trend will continue in the next 48 hours.

The FFWC said the situation might improve in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Kurigram in the next 24 hours while the deterioration may be halted in Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Natore, Bogra and Natore in the same period.

On the other hand, the Padma and Ganges will continue to rise in the next 48 hours. Moreover, data show that the water level of the Dhaleshwari, Atrai and Gur rivers of the central region has been on a rising trend and still flowing above the danger mark.

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