Heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 53 people in southeast Bangladesh, most of whom have been buried under landslides, authorities said on Tuesday.
Police have warned that the number of fatalities is likely to increase as emergency workers reach areas far from the affected area, where telephone and transport links have been cut.
“Recovery work is still ongoing and the number of deaths could increase, as many areas remain cut off,” the head of the Disaster Management Department Reaz Ahmed told AFP.
Ahmed said that disaster response teams had been deployed to the affected areas to strengthen recovery work.
“We have not been able to reach several affected areas. Once the rains are over, we will have a full picture of the damage and get the recovery work in full swing,” he said.
Many victims came from tribal communities in the remote area of Rangamati, near the Indian border, where 24 people were killed when land corridors buried their homes.
“Some of them were sleeping in their homes on the hillsides when the landslides occurred,” said District Police Chief Sayed Tariqul Hasan to AFP.
Six were killed in the neighboring district of Bandarban, including three children, brothers and sisters who were buried by a landslide while sleeping at home.
Another 16 of the victims were in the neighboring district of Chittagong, where at least 126 people were killed when a massive crash buried a village ten years ago.
The latest disaster occurred a few weeks after Hurricane Mora crashed in southeast Bangladesh, killing at least eight people and damaging tens of thousands of homes.
Monsoon rains in the hills of southern Bangladesh often cause deadly landslides.
Map of Bangladesh showing area where landslides hit Monday and Tuesday. (AFP)
Heavy monsoon rains have also beaten the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong in the district of the same name, which experienced 222 millimeters of rain, disrupting traffic for hours.
Among the victims were four soldiers who had been sent to clear roads in the Rangamati district after a previous landslide.
Thousands of troops are stationed in Rangamati, where a tribal insurgency has raged for two decades and is still suffering sporadic violence.
“Soldiers were sent to clandestine roads struck by a landslide in the town of Manikchhari when they were themselves buried by a second landslide,” said spokesman of the armed forces, Colonel Rashidul Hassan, to the AFP ……….