Government Says No One Has Died as Floodwaters Have Washed Away Roads and Damaged Crops
DHAKA, Bangladesh—Floodwaters pouring through villages in northern Bangladesh have left nearly half a million people homeless, washed away roads and damaged crops.
The low-lying and densely-populated country has been battered by flash floods for more than a week, with officials warning that heavy monsoon rains could cause fresh areas to be submerged in the next few days. The government said so far no one has died in the flooding.
Experts at the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in Dhaka said two of Bangladesh’s main rivers, the Meghna and the Brahmaputra, continue to rise, leaving people in 14 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts either marooned or forced to seek shelter on higher ground.
“The main rivers continue to flow above danger levels due to heavy rainfall upstream in India,” said Sazzad Hossain, an engineer at the flood forecasting center. “We expect the situation to worsen in the next 72 hours.”
The government said it is sending relief supplies—including food and medicine—to flood-hit areas.
“People have sought safety in schools and other government shelters,” said Iftekharul Islam, a director of the Department of Disaster Management. “We are well prepared to meet this emergency. The district administrations have sufficient supplies.”
Many families in the north of the country are without access to clean water and have lost their crops of rice, the main food staple and source of income for people in the area, charities working in the inundated areas said.
Shahin Howlader, a farmer in the northern district of Rangpur said he was sheltering with his family at a local school. “I’ve lost my home and my rice,” he said, speaking by telephone. “My two cows are also missing. I don’t know how I’ll survive the year.”
Floods and landslides are common in Bangladesh during the monsoon season, when annual rains swell rivers already carrying water from melting snow in the Himalayas where the country’s main rivers originate.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by floods and cyclones since the country won independence in 1971.
But the country has also received praise for its work in disaster preparedness in recent years. Experts say losses of life and property are declining thanks to the construction of cyclone shelters and improved evacuation procedures.
Source: Wall Street Journal