Tuesday 27, September 2022

Authority yet to reach many flood victims

News Desk: Relief supply did not reach the flood victims in many areas even six days after the monsoon deluge hit Sylhet division, despite water receding in some places on Wednesday.

Marooned people in the north, like their fellow flood victims in the north-east, also starved amid a scarcity of relief as many were forced to live under the open sky with no shelters to move to.

The health emergency operations control room reported six new deaths Wednesday, raising the official death toll to 42 from the disaster between May 17 and June 22.

They include 21 deaths in the Sylhet division, a figure contradicted by the office of the Sylhet divisional commissioner’s office, which reported 24 deaths in the region in four days until Wednesday.

Two of these deaths reported since Tuesday morning have been identified as Bilal Ahmed, 45, a resident of Dakkhin Kamrangirkhel, Jaintapur, Sylhet and Tara Mia, 50, a resident of Azmiriganj, Habiganj.

Three new deaths were also reported in the Rangpur division.

They are Sagir Ali, 58, a resident of Aditmari, Lalmonirhat, Maisha, six, a resident of Kaunia, Rangpur and Rabeya Khatun, 48, a resident of Chilmari, Kurigram.

‘We have accepted our fate. We stopped expecting anything from the government,’ said Azizar Rahman, a resident of Char Kuti, Kurigram, who has been living on the embankment for four days without any government people showing up to help him with food and water.

About 1.5 lakh people lived on embankments and roads of Kurigram, under the open sky or in rickety tents as the government did not even open flood shelters, let alone provide them with relief.

Marooned people, including flood refugees at shelters, mostly did not have access to safe drinking water with almost all tube wells remaining submerged in floodwaters in the flood-affected areas of north-eastern and northern districts.

Flood refugees at shelters are particularly at health risk because of living in unhygienic conditions at shelters, crammed with people and livestock, where toilets are far less than needed and underground water could not be lifted for drinking because of lack of electricity.

Several lakh people were at over 1,200 shelters in the Sylhet division which saw the flood situation in pockets of Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts deteriorating.

‘We had had some rice donated by individuals but it did not help us much,’ said Fatema Begum, 60, who took refuge at the Purbo Poilonpur govt primary school, Balaganj, Sylhet.

Out of 95 flood shelters opened in Osmaninagar, Sylhet, 65 did not get any relief so far, local public representatives alleged.

Badal Chandra Hajra, the acting headmaster of Matiapur High School, Derai of Sunamganj, said that some 150 flood victims took shelter in his school but as of Wednesday morning, they received no relief assistance from any government authorities.

‘Only two local people gave them some assistance. No government official came with help as yet,’ he said.

Cooking was not possible most of the time in the first four days of the flood that hit last Friday. There was no dry land even in the cities and towns where many flood refugees thronged for shelter.

Days of rain also left firewood drenched and unusable while it was impossible to get an LPG refill or cook with electricity.

Upazilas in both Sylhet and Sunamganj were still without electricity since power generation and transmission sub-stations remained under water.

The health complexes in upazilas, where hundreds of flood refugees took shelter, were pushed to the wall while running their operations without electricity and drinking water.

‘We expect a rise in water-borne diseases after the flood is over. But everything seems okay for now,’ said Himangshu Lal Roy, health director, Sylhet division.

Water Development Board in Lalmonirhat reported that 463 houses were either washed away or destroyed in erosion between Tuesday and Wednesday.

The houses were damaged in 10 upazilas of Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Kurigram and Gaibandha.

Three embankments were also collapsed flooding new areas in the north.

For over five million people affected by floods since last Friday, the government so far distributed 3220 tonnes of rice, 81,000 packets of dry food and Tk 3.86 crore in cash help, according to the daily disaster report released on Wednesday.

While all major rivers such as the Jamuna and the Padma swelled on Wednesday, most of the rivers in the north-east receded, though slightly, except the Kushiyara, said Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre.

The Surma continued to flow at a record-high level at Derai in Sunamganj for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday despite a slight fall in its water level over the 24 hours reporting period of the FFWC until 8:00 am.

According to the daily flood bulletin issued by the FFWC, 11 major rivers flowed above the danger mark at 21 points in 10 districts.

The rivers flowing over the danger limit are the Brahmaputra, Dharla, Ghaghat, Jamuna, Someshwari, Surma, Kushiyara, Atrai, Baulai, Old Surma and the Titas.

The flood warning centre said that the situation might improve in Sylhet division and Netrakona because of a let-up of rain over the next 48 hours.

But the flood situation may remain unchanged in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogura and Jamalpur.

The flood situation in central Bangladesh such as Tangail may worsen and the flood may spill over to Shariatpur and Madaripur over the next 24 hours.

A news correspondent in Feni reported an improvement in the flood situation and the electrocution of an expatriate, Shafiqur Rahman, a resident of Parshuram.

India Meteorological Department predicted heavy rain upstream in north-east India and sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Gangetic West Bengal over the next five days.


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