Rescue workers today continued to struggle to reach remote areas of Bangladesh where monsoon rain-triggered landslides have killed over 150 people with the worst-affected Rangamati district close to the Indian border facing food, power and fuel shortages. The southeastern Rangmathi, Chittagong and Bandarban hill districts have been the worst affected regions where incessant monsoon rains have triggered a series landslides and caused water-logging in many parts, besides submerging a number of villages. The disaster-hit Rangmathi district, which borders Mizoram and Tripura, is the worst hit and has alone seen 110 deaths, including four army personnel who were engaged in rescue operations. It is facing uncertainty due to food, power and fuel shortages.
Power was out in Rangamati and it seems it would take a while before supply is put back to normal. Road communication is still cut off with piles of landmass and debris, according to local media reports. “it would take time to make things normal,” Local roads and highways division’s Sub-Assistant Engineer Abu Musa was quoted as by Daily Star. Fuel shortage was running high in the district… Food supplies were also getting scarce and the top eateries in town have limited their menu, the report said. Rescuers found three more bodies – including that of the missing army man – as the search resumed amid warning of further rain.
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Chittagong Divisional Fire Service and Civil Defence’s Deputy Assistant Director Jashimuddin told the daily that the bodies were recovered. He, however, said it was unclear if it would add to the toll. Bangladesh has stepped up its search and rescue operations as the death toll in one of the worst landslides to hit the country has reached 152. The disaster claimed 32 lives in Chittagong, six in Bandarban, two in Cox’s Bazar and two in Khagrachhari. Many of the victims belonged to the ethnic minority or tribal groups who live in makeshift structures along the hills in Bandarban and Rangamati where power cuts and no road connection have enhanced miseries of the residents, officials said.
Densely populated Bangladesh is battered by storms, floods, and landslides every rainy season but this year’s rain is the worst since 2007 when landslides killed 127 people in the port city. Experts and environmentalists attribute the latest spell of landslides to illegal hill cuts exposing the sandy hills to quick erosion during protracted rains. The landslides triggered by the monsoon rains came two weeks after Cyclone Mora hit Bangladesh, leaving eight people dead and damaging hundreds of homes.