News Desk: The Army has been deployed to help a million people stranded by floods in Sylhet and Sunamganj after relentless monsoon rains inundated huge swathes of territory for the second time in weeks, said officials on Friday.
The region is experiencing its third round of flooding this year as rainwater from India's Meghalaya and Assam flows downstream.
Cherrapunji, the second wettest place on earth, recorded 2,456 mm of rain over the last three days triggering one of the worst floods and landslides in Meghalaya in recent years.
As a result, a large portion of the Sylhet division has been flooded, with 80 per cent of the area now under water.
Heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected to continue for the next 48 hours in the Sylhet division, and also in upstream adjoining states of India, according to weather reports.
Meanwhile, residents of the flood-affected areas are already suffering from a lack of drinking water, food, electricity, road communication, and sanitary facilities.
At least 4.5 lakh households are without electricity in different upazilas of Sylhet and Sunamganj, including Sadar upazila of Sylhet, South Surma and Chhatak upazilas of Sunamganj, and Sylhet metropolis and its surrounding areas.
The electricity supply has been cut off to avoid accidents due to flooding at the Chhatak and Sunamganj power grid substations, said Bangladesh Rural Electric Board (BREB) Chairman Mohammad Selim Uddin.
Floodwaters have also entered the Sylhet Kumargaon 132/33 KV grid substation, which supplies electricity to Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.
As a result, power distribution has been suspended in Companiganj, Kanaighat, Jaintiapur, and Gowainghat upazilas.
If the rains continue at the current rate, there’ll be no option but to cut power to all of Sylhet, Suranjit Singh, an engineer at the Kumargaon power station, told bdnews.24.
Meanwhile, authorities suspended the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations across the country slated for June 19, with hundreds of classrooms now being used as makeshift shelters for those whose homes have been submerged.
The revised schedule for the exams will be announced at a later date, according to a notice issued by the education minister’s office on Friday.
Furthermore, the Sylhet Osmani International Airport has halted all flights for the next three days due to floodwaters approaching the runway.
"The situation is very alarming. More than a million people are now marooned by flood water," Sylhet Divisional Commissioner Muhammad Mosharraf Hossain told media.
"People have taken shelter in their boats. We have deployed the army and we are trying to evacuate them," he added.
The flood situation is critical in Sunamganj, with knee to waist-high floodwater persisting virtually everywhere, including the Sadar, Dowarabazar, Chatak, Biswambharpur, Tahirpur, South Sunamganj, Jamalganj, and Jagannatpur upazilas.
The water is rising in Sylhet city. Most parts of the Companyganj, Goainghat, Kanaighat, Jayantapur, and Sadar upazilas are also inundated.
Roads, houses, and educational institutions in most areas of these upazilas, as well as many government offices, have been flooded.
Authorities sent the military to flood-hit rural towns, with soldiers going door to door handing out aid and rescuing people from rising tides.
Heavy rains that began last week in Bangladesh and parts of neighbouring India fed into rivers that burst their banks downstream, said Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan of the government's Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC).
The worst flooding in nearly two decades hit Sylhet late last month, with at least 10 people killed and four million others affected.
Flood situation to worsen
The Surma was flowing 108 cm, 70 cm and 120 cm above the danger level at the Kanaighat, Sylhet and Sunamganj points respectively at 9 am on Friday, the FFWC said.
Heavy to very heavy rainfall was also predicted for the northern and northeast parts of Bangladesh and the adjoining Assam, Meghalaya and Himalayan foothills of India's West Bengal in the next 72 hours.
The flood situation may worsen further in Sylhet, Sunamganj, and Netrakona in the next 24 hours. The Teesta River could overflow the danger level by then. Low-lying areas in Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur, and Kurigram may also flood due to the rains.
The water level will continue to surge in all major rivers in the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and Ganga-Padma basins, including the Surma, Kushiyara, Teesta, Dharla, and Dudhkumar in the next 48 hours.