Extremely heavy rain across the border in upstream India triggered in northern Bangladesh the worst flood in recorded history, said Water Development Board officials.
Over a quarter of a million people were stranded and tens of thousands moved onto embankments in Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur and Gaibandha districts after the Teesta flowed at 53.15m at 11:00am on Sunday.
‘Teesta water was so high, it flowed 55cm above the danger mark setting a new record,’ Rabiul Islam, executive engineer at Teesta Barrage told New Age.
This is the second time the Teesta broke water level record in two years as it flowed at 53.12m last year.
During the great flood of 1988, the Teesta flowed at 53.10m, the highest water level recorded till then since record keeping had begun in 1970.
The Dharla was flowing 88cm above the danger levels while Ghaghat 31cm above the danger level in Kurigram and Gaibandha respectively.
A Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre bulletin said that most rivers in the county were rapidly swelling with 13 of them flowing above their danger marks at 22 points, some rising nearly a metre above the marks.
Flowing ferociously, the rivers swept away at least two people, breached embankments at least in 18 places in the affected northern districts and Feni and disrupted communication with their district headquarters in many areas.
‘We expect the Teesta to fall rapidly as rain reduced upstream and it may come down below the danger level today,’ said WDB executive engineer Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan.
Water management experts warned that the Brahmaputra is the next river to wreak havoc and the Brahmaputra deluge may continue for 10 days.
‘The flood is likely to linger and the government should ready enough dry food for distribution among the stranded flood victims,’ said AKM Saiful Islam, a professor at the Institute of Water and Flood Management, BUET.
Red flags were posted at places along the length of the Teesta in order to let people know that they should immediately take safe shelter as it was also announced through public address system in vulnerable areas throughout Sunday.
The WDB said that at least five hundred houses were washed away in Rangpur division with embankments breached at nine points between Sunday and Monday.
On Sunday, the WDB recoded 72,200 cusecs water passing through the barrage point, the highest water flow ever recorded, with 61,612 cusecs recorded in 1988 and 64,000 cusecs recorded in 1996.
Rabiul said that all 54 gates at Teesta barrage remained open since July 1.
A one-year-child asleep was washed away Sunday night at Goddimari of Hatibandha in Lalmonirhat.
‘I must have fallen asleep at some point and the next moment I woke up to find my baby gone,’ said Farida.
In five flood-affected districts in the north over 2.5 lakh people are living more or less in a precarious condition akin to that of Farida as rivers swelled so much that it flowed through their houses.
The flood-affected areas in the north included one of the poorest areas in Bangladesh where flood victims are unwilling to leave behind any of their belongings, even if it meant risking their lives.
Official estimate shows that about one lakh people with their livestock and other valuables came to live on embankments in the five northern districts, setting up polythene tents amid moderate to heavy rains.
Over 300 houses at Patikapara and Sindurna unions of Hatibandha were devoured by the Teesta between Sunday and Monday after it washed away an embankment at Dhubni.
New Age correspondent in Kurigram reported that Jatrapur union was cut off from the Sadar upazila after floodwater overran the only road between the areas on Monday.
New Age correspondent in Feni reported that the River Muhuri swelled rapidly overnight sweeping away parts of embankments at nine points at Fulgazi and Parshuram upazilas.
Several thousand people in 15 villages in the upazila woke up to find themselves stranded with the river flowing a meter above the danger level on Monday morning.
The river engulfed parts of Feni-Parshuram road, disrupting communication.
Over a hundred fish farms have also been swept away in Feni.
Jamalpur district relief and rehabilitation officer Nayeb Ali told New Age that flood marooned 1,14,733 people as all the seven upazilas remained more or less under water.
Bogura District Relief and Rehabilitation officer Azhar Ali Mondol said that they expect flooding to get worse soon but about a lakh people were already stranded in chars.
Low-lying areas in Netrokona and Sirajganj are also flooded with over 1 lakh people stranded.
‘We have the forecast that the flood will get worse, but do not have any boat to evacuate people from vulnerable areas,’ said Nterokona DRRO Sharful Islam.
The FFWC predicted rivers in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna basins to swell over next 24 to 72 hours.
It warned that the rivers may cross their danger marks at Aricha, Bhagyakul and Mawa by Tuesday.
FFWC recorded extremely heavy rainfall at many places across the north with the highest rainfall of 160mm recorded at Lalakhal, Syhet in the 24 hours until 9:00am Monday.
Heavy to very heavy rain continued in the upstream with 184mm rain recorded at Cherapunji during the same time, said the FFWC.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department predicted light to moderate rains in most of the places of Rangpur, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Barishal and Chattogram divisions until Tuesday morning and in many places of Dhaka, Rajshahi and Khulna.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country