Flood, rain paralyse life across Bangladesh

Emran Hossain and Tapos Kanti Das | Published: 23:38, Jul 21,2020 | Updated: 21:51, Jul 23,2020


People have lunch in a restaurant submerged in water after heavy rains on Nazimuddin Road in Dhaka on Tuesday. — Sony Ramany

Incessant rain over the last couple of days and worsening flood in at least in 21 districts due to a steady rise in water levels in major rivers paralysed lives and livelihoods while meteorologists warned that the flood might become deadlier.

Road communication was disrupted in the worst-hit areas as well as many other parts of the country as floodwater damaged roads while waterlogging in Dhaka and many other cities and towns brought suffering to the people. 

Both floodwater and rain affected goods transport and people’s movement seriously hampering economic activities. 

The latest weather forecast said that the rain might continue for three more days while flood forecasters and meteorologists warned that Bangladesh’s ongoing flood might become one of the deadliest in decades as rivers began swelling again after spilling their banks for 25 days.

‘The rain may continue in the next 72 hours in the country,’ meteorologist Md Aftab Uddin at Dhaka Met Office told New Age.

‘We fear the flood would continue through the 2nd week of August affecting 40 per cent of the country,’ Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre executive engineer Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan told New Age.

Businesses could not be opened on Tuesday in different low-laying areas in Dhaka, Chattogram and elsewhere in the country due to heavy downpour, adding woes to the people. 

Reports received from Chattogram, Cumilla, Barishal, Cox’s Bazar, Pabna, Bogura, Sirajganj, Mymensingh and Chandpur said that incessant rain affected lives and livelihoods seriously in the districts.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department recorded highest 183 millimetres of rain in Cumilla, 158mm in Cox’s Bazar, 129mm at Tarash of Sirajganj, 114mm at Ishwardi in Pabna, 100mm in Bogura and 64mm of rain in Dhaka in 24 hours ending at 6:00pm on Tuesday, according to BMD data.

‘Like me, no businessmen could open any shop at the market since yesterday as our market is now under knee-deep water,’ Rokon Uddin, a trader of Hossain Manjil Market of Shashangachha in Cumilla city, told New Age.

Meanwhile, four more rivers crossed their danger marks in the 24 hours  until 9:00am on Tuesday as 18 rivers flowed above their danger levels at more than two dozen places with  nearly three million people affected in 20 districts and 81 people killed so far.

The last time the country saw such a huge area go under water was in 2007 with 42 per cent inundation, the third largest inundation by a flood since 1954, according to the FFWC.

In 1998, 68 per cent of Bangladesh had gone under water while in 1988 it was 61 per cent.   

On Tuesday, the Teesta River overflowed again, fifth time since late June, after India opened Gazaldoba Barrage gates releasing waters accumulated from days of ceaseless heavy rains upstream.

The FFWC predicted that rivers in the Brahmaputra and South-eastern hill basins may rapidly swell until Friday because of heavy rains upstream.

Rivers around Dhaka swelled rapidly as well with forecasters predicting floodwaters to reach areas such as Satarkul and Badda in Dhaka North City Corporation before the end of the week.

‘It would not be surprising if the flood continues through August,’ said meteorologist Abdul Mannan.

Heavy downpour continued with unprecedented regularity because of weather behaving erratically ever since super cyclone Amphan hit the country late May, he said.

Monsoon depressions usually bring breaks between rain spells but this year the Met Office saw no monsoon low forming through July, let alone depressions.

‘Monsoon arrived earlier than usual this year and by mid June caused enough rains to saturate soil and fill up almost all water bodies,’ said Mannan.

The monsoon still has more than a month to it and the rains going to fall the rest of the monsoon will become surface runoff overtaking land, explained Mannan. 

On Sunday, in its latest medium range forecast for 10 days, the FFWC said that flooding may turn severe in Tangail, Rajbari, SIrajganj and parts of Manikganj.

The forecast also predicted that the River Jamuna would set new water level records at Aricha, Kazipur, Serajganj and Bahadurabad; the Old Brahmaputra at Jamalpur; and the Padma at Bhagyakul and Goalanda at different times over the last week of the month.

Dhaka deputy commissioner Shahidul Islam said that Dohar and Nawabganj upazilas were partly flooded while canals in Keraniganj began eroding.

‘Water Development Board is trying to keep erosion in check and we are ready to face further deterioration in the situation,’ he said.

Fresh areas went under water in Dohar as floodwaters are about to overflow the embankment being used as Dhaka-Dohar road at places.

‘We see no escape this time. Inside the embankment, the water level is increasing because of waterlogging and rain while floodwater continues to rise on the other side,’ said Moksedur Rahman Khan, a resident of Dohar.

Nawabganj upazila nirbahi officer HM Salauddin Monzu said that they opened five schools as flood shelters but none of the 400 affected families sought refuge so far.

New Age correspondent in Munshiganj reported that heavy current continued to hamper the ferry service between the Shimulia and the Kathalbari terminals.

Over 500 vehicles were stranded in a tailback at Shimulia terminal as the time to cross the river increased because of heavy current, said BIWTC assistant manager Profulla Chouhan.

Over 20,000 people have been marooned in three upazilas in the district as the Padma continued swelling at Mawa and Bhagyakul points, flowing over the danger levels.

New Age correspondent in Lalmonirhat said that the Teesta was flowing 20cm above the danger level, after a gap of seven days and swept away 252 houses between Monday and Tuesday.

‘India opened 34 gates at Gazaldoba barrage and the water is likely to rise,’ said WDB executive engineer Rabiul Islam.

Nearly 39,000 people are living on embankment in Rangpur division since the flood began on June 27 while over 80,000 people are in government shelters across eight flood-affected districts in the division.

Over half of Jamalpur is under water with over 2.48 lakh families affected by the flood so far, showed the daily disaster management report.

Jamalpur emerged as one of the worst flood-hit districts so far.

The FFWC said that the flood situation in Sunamganj and Sylhet may worsen by Wednesday.

The FFWC observed heavy rains at many places in northern and north-eastern regions and in some places in south-eastern region with the country’s highest rain of 180mm recorded at Chhatak in the last 24 hours until Tuesday morning.

The FFWC said that in the upstream, 390mm rain was recorded at Cherapunji during the same time.

The BMD asked all four maritime ports to keep hoisting danger signal number three because of rough weather.

New Age Staff Correspondent in Chattogram reported that heavy rain and tidal water flooded many areas of the port city, including CDA residential area, Muradpur, Bohoddarhat, Bakolia, Agrabad, Chandanpura, Halishahar, and Chwakbazar, forcing commuters to suffer while many vehicles were trapped in waterlogged areas.

Most of the areas in Cumilla city were under water while the Stadium area, a centre point of the city, was under waist-level water on Tuesday, New Age correspondent in Cumilla reported.

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