SUNAMGANJ , Bangladesh, (AFP) – North-east Bangladesh’s worst floods in nearly 20 years began receding yesterday, but rescue workers were struggling to help millions marooned by extreme weather across the region that has killed around 60 people.
Floods are a regular menace to millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh and neighbouring northeast India, but many experts said that climate change is increasing the frequency and unpredictability.
In the past week after heavy rains in India, floodwater breached a major embankment in Bangladesh’s Sylhet region, affecting around two million people, swamping dozens of villages and killing at least 10.
Head of the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre Arifuzzman Bhuiyan told AFP that the floods had hit some 70 per cent of Sylhet district and about 60 per cent of neighbouring Sunamganj.
“It is one of the worst floods in the region,” he told AFP.
But he said the situation would improve further in the next few days after heavy rains stopped.
Police said that a scuffle broke out in the rural town of Companyganj on Saturday as authorities stepped up relief operations for the roughly two million people hit.
“There were more flood-affected people than the estimated relief packs. At one point everyone started to snatch relief goods when police dispersed the crowd,” local police chief Sukanto Chakrobarti told AFP.
Head of Sylhet district Mozibur Rahman said that the embankment washed away along the Bangladesh-India border was yet to be repaired. “It is impossible to fix the embankment unless waterflow from India plunges. The inundation scenario in Sylhet city has improved. But outer towns are still underwater.”