Landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Bangladesh killed more than 130 people, including several army men, with the majority of the deaths reported in a remote hill district close to the Indian border, officials said today. The worst affected Rangamati district alone reported nearly 100 deaths, including four army personnel who were deputed there to remove the rubble to clear a major highway. Officials said many people were asleep when the tragedy hit, causing more casualties especially among children. The death toll touched 130 and could rise further as many people still remain buried under tonnes of rubble, media reports said. Landslides killed 23 people in Rangunia and Chandanaish upazilas of Chittagong, the Dhaka Tribune reported. In Bandarban, six people were killed and another five injured, police officer Rafiq Ullah was quoted as saying by the daily. The reports said more than 100 people were injured, many of them critically, as searches continued to retrieve more bodies. Rescuers struggled reach the remote areas and had to battle inclement weather. “Most of the casualties were caused by landslides, but some died of electrocution, drowning and collapse of walls,” said an official at the southeastern port city of Chittagong. A military spokesman in Dhaka said an army major and a captain were among the four military personnel dead. “A fresh landslide at the scene buried the detachment killing the four while one soldier is still missing . . . ten personnel were wounded in the (fresh) landslide,” he said.
Many of the victims belonged to the ethnic minority or tribal groups in Rangamati and Bandarban who live in makeshift structures along the hills, officials said. “The rescue campaign is underway. We can get a clearer picture of the casualties later,” a spokesman at the Disaster Management Ministry said. The landslides triggered by the monsoon rains came two weeks after Cyclone Mora hit Bangladesh, leaving eight people dead and damaging hundreds of homes.