Pre-Dawn Landslides Kill At Least 134 People in Southeast Bangladesh

At least 125 have died after heavy rain triggered landslides in three hill districts of southeastern Bangladesh.

Reaz Ahmed, of the disaster management department, confirmed 107 deaths - 75 in Rangamati, 26 in Chittagong and six in Bandarban.

Three bodies were recovered on Tuesday from the Bay of Bengal, where 86 fishermen remain missing after a cyclonic storm in the coastal district of Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, police said.

"Rescue operations are being hampered by bad weather while authorities are still struggling to reach some remote areas", Ahmed said.

A soldier was still missing in the landslide which killed four personnel and injured ten more near the army's Manikchhari camp in Rangamati.

The death toll this time has already surpassed that of the 2007 landslides in Chittagong when at least 128 people were killed.

Heavy rains were also forecast for Wednesday.

The EU ambassador to Bangladesh, Pierre Mayaudon, said the EU stood ready to provide support and relief efforts to alleviate the impact of this severe disaster.

We have opened 18 safe shelters housing about 4,500 people, he said.

At least 11 people were killed in the Indian states of Mizoram and Assam, which border Bangladesh, as incessant rains flooded major cities.

Rescue operations are still underway as rescue teams are searching for more bodies buried under mud and debris with shovels and bare hands, he said.

More than 200 people were killed in Sri Lanka last month when the monsoon triggered landslides and the worst flooding the island has seen in well over a decade.

Nineteen people have reportedly died in the southern district of Chittagong, another landslide danger zone where telephone and transport links have been cut.

"We've rescued and evacuated around 2,300 people in Rangamati and Bandarban, and they have been taken to safer shelters", he said.

Police warned that the death toll would likely rise as emergency workers reached remote parts of the Chittagong Hills, some 242 km away from Dhaka.

"The situation forced us to demolish a protection embankment against tidal surges as it appeared to be obstructing drainage inundating homes and roads", an official of the city corporation said.

The South Asian nation is familiar with monsoon rains that frequently trigger deadly landslides in southern hilly districts. "But we did not have enough rescuers to send", said Didarul Alam, fire services chief for Rangamati district.

  • Jack Mann