5.5 million affected, 145 killed as flood lingers

Jamuneswari breaks 7-decade record, Karatoa flows 4-decade high as India opens barrages

Emran Hossain with Rezaul Karim Manik in Lalmonirhat | Published: 00:15, Aug 05,2020


Two children swim to fetch fresh water as a woman looks on in a flood-hit area of Lauhajang upazila in Munshiganj on Tuesday. — Sony Ramany

Over four lakh people got freshly affected by flood over the Eid holidays as the total number of flood victims crossed 5.5 million until Tuesday, 39 days after the monsoon flood hit in late June, with 145 flood-related deaths so far.

Government disaster responders and flood victims said that the overall flood situation remained largely unchanged except for the rapid deterioration in the flood situation in parts of north as India continued to release huge volumes of water through two barrages built in Uttar Dinajpur.

A Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre report showed that 17 rivers flowed above their danger marks at 27 places as their water levels registered a slow fall over the 24 hours until 9:00am Tuesday.

‘The flood situation would improve steadily but slowly,’ said FFWC executive engineer Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, who also added that it might take another week or a little more for floodwaters to completely recede.

On Tuesday afternoon, Water Development Board’s divisional office in Rangpur said that the River Jamuneswari flowed 30cm above its danger mark at Badarganj, Rangpur, flowing at 52.90cm, crossing its danger mark at 52.60cm, for the first time in recorded history.

In 1941, the Jamuneswari flowed 2cm below the danger mark, the highest level the river ever reached before the new record was set on Tuesday.

‘India released 7,260 cusec water towards the Jamuneswari through Deonai Barrage in Uttar Dinajpur since July 30. Jamuneswari never flowed so strong,’ said WDB executive engineer Mehedi Hasan.

The overflowing Jamuneswari affected 15,000 families in Rangpur, Panchagarh, Gaibandha, Thakurgaon and Bogura. The Jamuneswari, deriving from a Teesta tributary in India, merges with the Jamuna.

The Karatoa flowed 8cm above its danger mark on Tuesday afternoon as India continued to release water through the Sutra Barrage at Uttar Dinajpur for the fourth consecutive days since the Eid day.

‘The Karatoa rose this high 40 years ago,’ said Mehedi.

WDB estimated that the overflowing Karatoa affected 13,600 families in Panchagarh, Dinajpur, Joypurhat and Bogura over the Eid holidays.

‘The flood situation seems worse than expected,’ said Kazi Tasmin Ara Ajmery, who is in charge of the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre.

NDRCC report showed that the flood so far affected 55,63,777 people and killed 41 in 33 districts.

Health emergency control room however said that the flood so far killed 145 in 33 districts since June 30.

The rivers around Dhaka either kept swelling or receded very slightly over the 24 hours until 9:00am Tuesday. The Balu, Shitalakkhya and Tongi Khal swelled while Turag, Kaliganga and Dhaleswari fell by a few centimetres.

‘The water is still rising as my area almost entirely lays submerged in floodwater,’ said Akbar Hossain, councillor, 75 no ward, Dhaka South City Corporation.

Akbar’s electorate falls under Khilgaon police station and parts of Shabujbag, Demra and Mugda were also under water for nearly two weeks now.

All the five upazilas in Dhaka were affected more or less by flood, some of them severely, said Dhaka district relief and rehabilitation officer Mohammad Hossain.

He said that 2,35,325 families have been affected by flood in 189 villages in Dhaka district.

Crops on 1942 hectares were damaged and 3.5km river bank eroded so far in Dhaka.

‘The situation is worsening every day,’ said Mohammad Hossain.

Dohar upazila nirbahi officer AFM Feroz Mahamud said that a vast area in his upazila was still under water though water receded over the last two days.

‘Water rose so high that a slight fall in water level hardly makes any impact on the overall situation,’ he said.

New Age correspondent in Lalmonirhat reported that 1,230 houses were lost to erosion in the eight flood-affected districts in Rangpur division.

WDB estimates showed erosion destroyed 22,274 houses in the division so far.

‘I have been away from home for over a month and still the situation is not improving,’ said Akbar Ali, a resident of Char Isli, Rangpur, who has been living on an embankment.

On Tuesday, Bangladesh Meteorological Department reported the first low formed this monsoon.

‘The low brings good news for us for it foretells a reduction of rainfall in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna catchment area,’ said meteorologist Abdul Mannan.

Less rainfall in catchment area means speedier reduction in floodwater levels, he said.

The BMD however predicted light to moderate rains at most places over Dhaka, Khulna, Barishal and Chattogram divisions.

It said that the heat wave that swept almost entire Bangladesh might abate with rains over Wednesday and Thursday.

The BMD advised the four maritime ports to hoist signal number three because of the rough sea under the influence of the low.

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