06/12/2007, 00.00
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Rain and mudslides: over 90 dead in Bangladesh

by Nozrul Islam
The monsoon season gets off to a violent start. Chittagong is worst hit: mud buries the shanty towns of the poor; ports, airports, schools and shops remain closet. Thousands are left homeless.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) –  The death toll in Bangladesh from three days of heavy monsoon rains and subsequent mudslides has hit 91.  Reports speak of hundreds wounded and over 55 thousand homeless. Authorities fear that the toll is set to rise.  Official sources maintain that the actual death toll is already well over 100.  

The port city of Chittagong, in the South East, is the worst hit.  It has been completely buried by mud killing at least 55 people.  The national Daily Star’s morning headline reads: “Wall of mud transforms Chittagong into a city of death”.  Local press report hills which collapse in on the small fishermen’s’ boats, port and airport closed, no electricity, year end school exams put off.

Firemen, soldiers, police and volunteers are working round the clock digging through the mud in attempts to rescue bodies trapped beneath the earth and debris.  Emergency services, however are meeting great difficulties in getting through because most of the roads have been washed away by the floods.  “These are the worst floods we have ever seen in Chittagong” says the chief of the firemen Rashedul Islam.

General Matin, representing the provisional government Fakhruddin Ahmed, is due to visit the area and meet families of the victims.  He is also scheduled to meet with the special emergency task force.  Meteorologists warn that the rains, at the beginning of the monsoon season, have paralysed most of Bangladesh and that they will continue without respite for the next few days.  Bangladesh is hit by similar natural disasters each year.  Between July and September 2004 more than a thousand people have died and millions have been left homeless due to floods.  According to official data water has flooded over two thirds of the Country and destroyed crops and roads with damage amounting to over two billon dollars.


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