Millions marooned in one of the worst flooding disasters

As much as 72 percent of the Sylhet division is now submerged on the back of torrential rainfall and flash floods in upstream India's Meghalaya and Assam.


Goyainghat upazila, Sylhet on Friday, June 17, 2022. Photo: Sheikh Nasir

June 20, 2022

DHAKA – The flood in the Sylhet division has deteriorated dramatically in the past 24 hours, with the situation heading towards the most devastating in recent memory.

As much as 72 percent of the division is now submerged on the back of Wednesday’s torrential rainfall in the north-eastern districts and flash floods in upstream India’s Meghalaya and Assam, where record-breaking rainfall was recorded.

Some 64 upazilas of 10 districts have been hit by the flood, said Md Enamur Rahman, the state minister for the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

Communications have snapped, power supply have been cut off, and medical services suffered disruptions in most areas. People are struggling to get food, drinking water and shelter, report our correspondents.

“We are surviving on dry food for the last two days. If we don’t get food relief, we will die soon,” said Jahanara Begum, a resident of Sunamganj’s Dhamapasha upazila. Her family has taken shelter at a primary school building near her home.

Sunamganj has been the hardest hit by the flood.

Since Thursday, the district has remained inaccessible from other parts of the country. It has been without electricity for the last two days, which led to the collapse of the mobile network in the region and left mobile phones without charge.

As a result, the people stranded there are unable to contact anyone to rescue them.

About 40 lakh people are estimated to be marooned, according to Muhammad Mosharrof Hossain, the divisional commissioner.

And the situation is expected to get worse, as per yesterday’s bulletin from the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre.

There is a possibility of medium to heavy rainfall in some places of the northern and north-eastern regions of the country along with adjoining states of Assam, Meghalaya and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal of India in the next 72 hours, it said.

Subsequently, the flood situation in the Sylhet, Sunamganj and Netrakona districts may further deteriorate in the next 24 hours.

“As a result, the Brahmaputra-Jamuna, the Ganges-Padma, the Surma, the Kushiyara, the Teesta, the Dharla, the Dudkumar and all other major rivers may continue rising in the next 48 hours.”

Rivers were flowing above the danger level at 17 of its measuring points across the country until yesterday morning, the bulletin added.

Meanwhile, electricity supply to Sylhet district was cut off yesterday after sub-stations became submerged in flood water.

Sylhet’s worst affected areas are Gowainghat, Companiganj, Kanaighat, Jaintiapur, Sylhet Sadar, Zakiganj, Bishwanath, Golapganj, Beanibazar and parts of Sylhet city area.

Chhatak, Dowarabazar, Sunamganj Sadar, Derai, Madhyanagar, Bishwambarpur, Dharmapasha, Tahirpur, Jamalaganj and all of Sunamganj town are the worst affected in Sunamganj district.

Amid the situation, the fare for boats, the only option for rescue so far, has shot through the roof. What used to be Tk 100 is now Tk 10,000, said locals.

Maroof Ahmed was willing to pay up to Tk 40,000 to a boatman to take his pregnant wife from their inundated village to Sylhet city. But the boatman declined.

And all the train movement in and out of Sylhet Railway Station was suspended yesterday due to flood. Around noon water entered the station’s main platform.

In Moulvibazar, at least 40 villages of Kulaura and Barlekha upazila are inundated. Besides, many portions of the district headquarters have gone underwater.

Bangladesh Army, Navy, firefighters, civil administration, law enforcers and local council representatives are running rescue operations.

Nine million flood-hit people have so far been evacuated in Sumanganj and Sylhet, the state minister said while briefing reporters at the ministry’s conference room yesterday.

The ministry has allocated 400 tonnes of rice, 41,000 packets of dry food and Tk 2.25 crore in cash as relief for the flood-hit people, said a press statement.

“Relief materials are being sent to flood centres. We will serve cooked food and where not possible, dry foods will be provided,” Hossain said.

Bangladesh Army yesterday launched toll-free numbers to help the flood-affected people in Sunamganj and Sylhet. People can call those numbers without any cost, said the release.

The flood has also affected the adjoining districts of Sherpur and Brahmanbaria, report our correspondent quoting local administration.

Meanwhile, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education has asked the authorities of all schools and colleges in the flood-affected areas to get their establishments ready for affected people.

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