The search and rescue operations for the missing landslide victims in Rangamati were called off on Friday with many people remaining unaccounted for.
Recovery of two more bodies in the morning from Rangamati increased the combined death toll in three hill districts as well as Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar to 156.
Met office special bulletin in the afternoon, meanwhile, warned that more landslides might occur at places in the hilly regions of Chittagong and Sylhet divisions.
Rangamati’s fire service assistant director Golam Mostafa at a press conference at his office in the afternoon said that the search and rescue operations were called off as no survivor had been found. He informed that the Rangamati district administration had decided to stop the operations.
Rangamati deputy commissioner Manzarul Mannan confirmed calling off
the operations and told New Age on Friday evening, ‘There could be two to three more people missing, but their rescue is not possible.’
‘They are in very remote locations; but we cannot let the rescue teams go out of our network,’ he added.
Locals claimed that many people were missing as a lot of the houses still remained swamped by mud and debris unleashed by the landslides.
The latest casualties come weeks after cyclone Mora killed at least seven people and damaged tens of thousands of homes in Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Rangamati.
Experts said that the latest tragedy of landslides was a result of uncontrolled denuding and soil-harvesting on the hills above unplanned settlements.
The fire-fighters, army, Red Crescent and villagers carried out operations for the fourth consecutive day on Friday and recovered the bodies of Ibrahim, 28, and Mujibur, 12, from Kaptai Lake and near Rangamati Circuit House respectively.
Rangamati deputy commissioner Manzarul Mannan said that 110 bodies were so far recovered in the district.
‘Seventeen shelter centres have been opened for the affected people in the district where some 2,100 people have taken shelter,’ he said.
Manzarul added that four launches had resumed operations on the Kaptai Lake-Chittagong route to transport essentials to Rangamati as the road communications still remained snapped.
The army were working to restore road communication from Chittagong to Rangamati.
Rangamati region commander brigadier general Golam Faruq said that the roads division and the army were working to restore road communication.
Roads and highway executive engineer Emdad Hossain said that the light vehicles could ply across Rangamati-Chittagong road in three days.
He hoped that full restoration of road communication could be made in 10 to 12 days.
The Power Development Board has installed a 50KV generator to supply electricity to Rangamati town.
The district administration has started running mobile courts to contain price hike of essentials after the disaster.
It has also opened complaint centres in the town.
Sufferings of the landslides-affected people in Rangamati district have multiplied due to acute crises of food, fuel, power and drinking water.
Visiting the affected area on Friday, water resource minister Anisul Islam Mahmud ordered the administration to take measures to ensure food, fuel, power and drinking water supplies in the area.
Met office special bulletin in the afternoon said that heavy to very heavy rainfall was likely at places over Sylhet and Chittagong divisions due to active monsoon till 5:00pm on Saturday.
Another weather forecast valid for 24 hours commencing at 9:00am on Friday revealed that a low had formed over Northwest Bay and adjoining areas. ‘Monsoon is active over Bangladesh and moderate elsewhere over the North Bay.’
It predicted that light to moderate rain or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind was likely to occur at most places over Khulna, Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Sylhet and Mymensingh divisions and at many places over Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions, with heavy to very heavy falls at places over Chittagong, Barisal and Sylhet divisions.