Heavy rains kill at least 48 in Bangladesh

Police warned the death toll would likely rise as emergency workers reached remote parts of the affected area, where telephone and transport links had been cut.

Bangladeshi fire fighters and residents search for bodies after a landslide in the district of Bandarban on June 13, 2017. AFP
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DHAKA // Heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 48 people in south-east Bangladesh, most of them buried under landslides, authorities said on Tuesday.

Police warned the death toll would probably rise as emergency workers reached remote parts of the affected area, where phone and transport links had been cut.

“The recovery work is still going on. The death toll could rise as many areas still remained cut off,” said Reaz Ahmed, head of the department of disaster management.

Mr Ahmed said disaster response teams had been sent to the affected areas to reinforce recovery work.

“We have not been able to reach many of the affected places. Once the rains are over, we’ll get a full picture of the damage and get the recovery work in full swing,” he said.

Many of the victims were from tribal communities in the remote hill district of Rangamati, close to the Indian border, where 24 people were killed when mudslides buried their homes.

“Some of them were sleeping in their houses on hillsides when the landslides occurred,” said district police chief Sayed Tariqul Hasan.

Six were killed in the nearby district of Bandarban, among them three children, siblings who were buried by a landslide as they slept in their home.

Another 16 of the casualties were in the neighbouring district of Chittagong, where at least 126 people were killed when a massive landslide buried a village a decade ago.

The latest disaster came weeks after Cyclone Mora smashed into Bangladesh’s south-east, killing at least eight people and damaging tens of thousands of homes.

Monsoon rains in Bangladesh’s southern hill districts frequently trigger deadly landslides.

Heavy monsoon rains also pounded the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong, which had 222 millimetres of rain, disrupting traffic for hours.

Among the victims were four soldiers who had been sent to clear roads in the district of Rangamati after an earlier landslide.

* Agence France-Presse