Sri Lanka orders schools in capital to close as fuel crisis deepens


DHAKA: Millions of people in northeast Bangladesh have been marooned by deadly floods triggered by monsoon rains, authorities said on Saturday, as they brace for a situation that could worsen. 

Rescue and evacuation efforts were continuing as incessant rains affected communication lines and submerged railway lines, with worst-hit Sunamganj district in Bangladesh’s Sylhet region out of electricity for the past three days, officials said. 

Two people have been killed by the floods in the region, while at least 19 others were reportedly killed by lightning strikes and landslides in other districts in Bangladesh. The devastating floods came just as the South Asian country was recovering from a similarly widespread deluge that had trapped millions hit the same region last month.  

“Four million people have been marooned in Sylhet,” Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain, chief administrator of Sylhet region, told Arabian Weekly. “It’s a worsening situation. It’s still raining in Sylhet.” 

Hossain said that the navy was called in on Saturday to help with rescue operations, as local authorities faced a shortage of water vessels to reach those who were trapped, and to distribute aid.

“At the moment we are facing a crisis of water vessels since we need plenty of country boats to rescue people from different remote areas. Now our top-most priority is to reach the flood victims and rescue them,” he said. 

With more rain forecast over the weekend, state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center is expecting the deluge to worsen amid the region’s worst flooding in nearly two decades. 

“This is the worst flood in the Sylhet region since 2004,” Arifur Rahman, an executive engineer at the center, told Arabian Weekly. “In Sylhet region, flood water will be increased on Saturday and Sunday also. We hope the water will start receding from Monday onwards.”

As record rainfall continues in the region, an expert said that any increase in rain intensity could worsen the already devastating situation. 

“All the major rivers are at a very high risk. If the rainfall increases in the next couple of days, it will worsen the situation; flooding new areas in northern and central parts of the country,” Ainun Nishat, a climate change expert and professor at the BRAC University in Dhaka, told Arabian Weekly. 

Food is the main concern for 33-year-old Arif Chowdhury, who is now taking refuge on the second floor of his home with three other families, as the first floor of his house has been submerged. 

“At the moment my only concern is to have some cooked food as we don’t have any electricity or gas supply,” Chowdhury told Arabian Weekly. 

Abdur Rahman, a 48-year-old farmer from Jaintapur subdistrict in Sylhet, said that he couldn’t save any of his belongings when his home was submerged on Thursday. 

“I just rushed to this school building along with my wife and three children,” Rahman told Arabian Weekly.

“We faced two devastating floods in a short span of time. We don’t know what lies ahead, how can we survive?”

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