Bangladesh floods: more than a million stranded as waters rise

Water levels rises at major rivers in the low-lying 20 districts on Tuesday

More than one million people in Bangladesh are marooned or fleeing their homes for safer areas as about a third of the country is inundated with floodwater, officials said.

Water levels of major rivers in the low-lying country rose at about 25 areas in 20 districts on Tuesday. Many new areas in northern, north-eastern and central Bangladesh have been affected over the past 24 hours, Arifuzzman Bhuiyan, an executive engineer with the Water Development Board, said. Bangladesh has 64 districts.

“The situation is worsening,” he said. “The worst thing is that the floods are getting prolonged this year, which is a bad sign.”

Mr Bhuiyan said heavy rainfall and rushing waters from upstream India were the main reasons for the floods in the delta nation of 160 million people, which receives monsoon rains between June and October every year, often leading to flooding.

The floods started late last month and after brief pause continued to worsen, affecting many new areas, destroying crops and driving people from their homes in several impoverished regions. Bangladesh has 230 rivers, including 53 shared with India.

In the northern district of Kurigram, one of the worst-hit areas, thousands of villagers have moved from their homes to higher territories since the weekend, bringing along their cattle and other belongings, said Mizanur Rahman Soikat, project co-ordinator with local charity Bidyanondo Foundation.

The foundation has been distributing cooked and dry food to the flood-affected villagers, many of whom have lost their crops and livelihood.

Mr Soikat said that over the past few weeks, the charity has distributed food to about 135,000 people in Kurigram, while the government’s relief office was also providing food, cash and cattle food.

“Over last two days, the situation has deteriorated and many villages went underwater in the district,” he said. “I have seen thousands taking shelter.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Monday that more than a million Bangladeshis have been marooned by the floods, with the worst of it happening since the weekend.

“Thousands of people are expected to leave their homes throughout the beginning of this week to seek shelter in higher ground as the Water Development Board warned that the rush of water from upstream would further intensify,” the statement said.

ATM Akhteruzzman, a relief and rehabilitation officer in the northern district of Rangpur, said about 50,000 people who live along the Teesta River basin have been marooned.

“Waters are coming from India, while heavy rainfalls in the region are causing havoc,” he said. “We are trying to do our best to stand by the people, as we have already provided more than 300 tonnes of rice, cattle food, baby food and a good amount of cash. Our relief operations will continue.”

Updated: July 15, 2020 03:31 PM


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