Death toll reaches 26 as flood worsens

Emran Hossain with Rezaul Karim Manik in Lalmonirhat | Published: 23:52, Jul 10,2020


A seven-year-old boy was washed away by the Teesta River in Rangpur Friday afternoon raising the death toll from flood to 26 in the past 12 days as the river was overflowing again worsening flood in northern districts.

The other rivers such as the Jamuna, Surma and Jadukata swelled again on Friday, inundating low lying areas and stoking fresh fears among riverside people with strong current.

The Teesta flowing with heavy force swept the boy, Julhas, away from his family while they were busy relocating home as the river eroded Purba Haguria of Pirgachha in Rangpur.

The boy’s body was recovered two kilometres down the river two hours later at about 2:30pm by local people.

The health emergency control room listed 25 death in 11 days until July 9 in four of the 14 flood hit districts caused by drowning and snake bite.

Rangpur deputy commissioner Asib Ahsan confirmed New Age about the death of the boy.

Monsoon flood is particularly hazardous for erosion prone areas where people race against time to relocate their homes when rivers start swelling after heavy rains upstream.

Rivers in Bangladesh could swell up to six feet in 24 hours following heavy rains upstream, which often is the case with places across the Assam and Meghalaya borders.

People often risk their lives in trying to save valuables or relocate home and lose their lives, especially children and elderly people.

The health emergency control room estimate shows that the highest number of 11 death related to flood took place in Jamalpur, the worst flood-affected district so far.

The other death reports came from Kurigram, Gaibandha and Lalmonirhat. Only one of the 26 death was caused by snake bite.

The Teesta devoured the entire village of Haguriya already with flood worsening.

Abdul Matin, a resident of Haguriya, moved to Teesta-Bamti embankment at Pirgacha on June 20, the first time the Teesta overflowed this monsoon after India opened Gazaldoba Barrage.

But the embankment collapsed the night Matin came onto it for shelter and washed away his eight-year-old son Rumi.

Rumi was found dead later down the river.

‘Who is responsible for the death of my son?’ asked Matin.

‘The task of relocating home is not easy, particularly for the poor, when there is water all around but no boats to cross it,’ said Matin.

Without any help from the authorities, people often undertake the risky journey of crossing roaring rivers in small boats, crammed with their children, elderly family members, livestock, valuables and removed parts of houses.

Boat capsizes are not uncommon but the people get saved in most cases for they are adept at swimming being born and raised along a riverine landscape.

Tragedy occurs every now and then, especially when rivers currents are overwhelming and children cannot make it to the shore.

Snake bites are suffered by people who choose to stay in raised platforms at homes submerged in several-feet water when snake try to seek shelter there.

‘We cannot offer the people help anyway, either offering money or offering a safe boat ride,’ said Mohishkhocha union parishad chairman Mosaddek Hossain of Lalmonirhat.

‘The government does not consider it necessary,’ he said.

Many get bitten by snakes or washed away by flood waters while walking through roads completely submerged in several feet water while carrying livestock along across their back.

On July 9, the government decided to open flood shelters two weeks after the flood hit but did not detail how they planned to evacuate people.

Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre predicted flood to worsen from Saturday with extremely heavy rains reported in upstream.

The centre said that Cherapunji received 551mm rain in the 24 hours until 9:00am on Friday and extremely heavy rains in Arunachal and Assam and Meghalaya.

It also recorded extremely heavy rains in Bangladesh with the country’s highest rain of 183mm recorded at Sunamganj during the same time.

New Age correspondent in Bairshal reported that erosion turned severe at Hizla after the Meghna crossed the danger mark at Chandpur.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department advised all four maritime ports to keep hoisting signal-3 until further notice because of rough sea.

More about:

Want stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up to exclusive daily email