Landslide deaths in Bangladesh climb to 163

Dhaka, June 18 (IANS) At least five people died on Sunday in fresh landslides in Bangladesh, raising the deaths to 163 as heavy monsoon rains have lashed the country for a week.

Three children died in the district of Khagrachhari, and a woman and her daughter died in Moulvibazar, officials confirmed to the Efe news agency.

Khagrachhari’s Police Superintendent Ali Ahmed Khan said two children were buried alive in a mudslide that hit the room of their house they were sleeping in, located in Ramgar town, after rainfall intensified Saturday night.

Their parents, who were sleeping in another room, were unharmed.

Moulvibazar Police Superintendent Mohammad Shahjalal said a 40-year-old woman and her 13-year-old daughter died after their house collapsed under the weight of the mudslide.

With the fresh fatalities, the deaths in the country since last Tuesday have risen to 163, in what the government has described as the worst landslides in history.

Manzurul Mannan, Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati, the district worst affected by the catastrophe, said two more bodies were recovered on Saturday, pushing the number of dead in the district to 113.

Incessant downpour continues to keep people under the threat of new landslides, causing many to return to the 17 government shelters that have been kept open since Tuesday in view of the risk the people face in their homes.

“Some had left the shelters but are returning, our people with hand-held loudspeakers are calling them to return,” said Mannan.

The rains began last Sunday but intensified Tuesday and Wednesday, when 343 millimetres of rainfall was recorded in Rangamati.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) on Sunday recorded 68 mm of rain in just six hours in Rangamati, according to BMD’s local spokesperson Arif Hossain.

The Ministry of Disaster Management is giving out aid to victims and assessing the damage in the affected areas.

The districts of southern Bangladesh usually suffer the effects of monsoon and tropical cyclones at this time of year, which has often resulted in catastrophes that have claimed many lives, despite government attempts to regulate the construction and placement of houses.

–IANS

ahm/vt

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