Over three million marooned in 21 districts
Torrential rain and onrush of water from the upstream have engulfed over three fourths of the country until Wednesday, affecting rail, road, and river communications network and killing 20 people in nine districts so far.
According to the disaster management and relief ministry, over 3 million people in 21 districts have been affected after flooding started about two weeks ago.
The most affected districts include the northern districts of Kurigram, Jamalpur, Sylhet, Gaibandha, Sunamganj and Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar on the south east region.
The overall flood situation in Kurigram, Jamalpur, Gaibandha, Bogura, Sirajganj, Tangail, Manikganj and Faridpur is feared to worsen as the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) of the Water Development Board on Wednesday forcast further rise in Brahmaputra, Jamuna and Padma rivers in the next two days due to surge from the upstream . Water was recorded flowing above the danger level at 23 of the 93 on Wednesday. The rivers Jamuna and Padma would continue to rise over the next 48 hours, said FFWC.
Kurigram is the most stricken district with 600,000 people marooned by floods while Chattogram was the second with over half a million people stranded in submerged areas. The number is about 350,000 in Sylhet, 300,000 in Gaibandha and 200,000 in Jamalpur.
Flooding has triggered river erosion, breached dams, snapped road and rail links, inundated crop fields and forced educational institutions shut.
Over a dozen people, mostly children, have drowned as flash floods washed away homes or boats capsized.
Now the fear of spread of communicable diseases in the affected areas has increased with the Met Office, saying a mild heat wave sweeping over the regions of Faridpur, Rajshahi, Mongla, Satkhira, Chuadanga and Jashore may continue.
Bangladesh experienced the deadliest floods in decades in 2017, when the untimely rise in water levels affected about 10 million people and damaged crops on swathes of fields in the Haor or backswamp regions.
The death toll from drowning and other flood-related reasons reached 140 that year, though the spread of the floods were lesser than those of 1988 and 1998.
The health emergency control room said at least 20 people were killed after being washed away by floodwaters or drowned or in snake bites in nine districts since July 10.
Of those drowned, two died in Lalmonirhat, five in Netrokona, one each in Nilphamari, Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar and Gaibandha, three in Kurigram and four in Jamalpur.
One died after suffering snake bite in Nilphamari and another one in Lalmonirhat during the same time.
Ferry service disrupted
Heavy currents in rivers washed away roads in many places in the flood affected 21 districts and slowed down national ferry services on major routes like Paturia-Dulatdia and Shimulia-Kathalbari, causing huge traffic congestion on either sides of the rivers.
‘Our ferries are too weak to cope with the strong current of Padma,’ Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation’s deputy general manager at Shimulia-Kathalbari ferry station Chowdhury Mohammad Nasir told the reporters in Munshiganj.
He said that only two of their 15 ferries usually operating on the route could carry vehicles across the river on Wednesday.
The Shimulia-Kathalbari river crossing connects Dhaka with southern districts of Bangladesh.
Heavy current also delayed ferry services on Paturia-Daulatdia river crossing, causing huge traffic congestion on either sides of the river crossing route.
In Manikganj , over 500 vehicles, including those laden with goods got stranded at the river crossing until Wednesday evening.
Thousands of passengers travelling between the capital and the south and south western districts remained stuck at traffic jams at the river crossing.
BIWTC’s Aricha regional office’s deputy general manager Zillur Rhaman said that they had to reduce trip numbers across the crossing as strong current increased trip time besides reducing ferries’ capacity to carry vehicles.
BIWTC officials said that the river became so unpredictable that they needed to adjust pontoon every now and then to keep the river crossing route operational.
The River Padma was predicted to flow above its danger level at Bhyagyakul point over the same period, said the FFWC. The Padma was already flowing 11 cms above the danger level at Goalondo.
Rail road communication disrupted
According to report received from Lalmonirhat , railway communication between Dhaka and the northern districts of Lalmonirhat and Gaibandha remained suspended since Wednesday morning.
Flood waters submerged a six kilometres stretch of the rail track at Badiakhali in Gaibandha under almost 10 feet of water.
At least 30 villages were inundated by floodwaters after protection embankment in the district was breached in six points over the next two days.
So far over 250 villages have been swamped by floodwaters
The northern district of Gaibandha also remained out of reach of road communication for three days until Tuesday after floodwaters damaged its major roads.
In Kurigram, road communication between Kurigram and Bhurungamari land port was disrupted after floodwaters damaged parts of the road. Over a dozen villages went under water Wednesday after floodwaters washed away embankments at Roumary and Bamondanga upazila.
In Sirajganj , five villages went under water in the district after floodwaters washed away a part of the protection embankment at Kazipur point.
Water however receded from rivers in hilly region in Bangladesh after wreaking havoc there for nine days.
The FFWC in its afternoon bulletin said that 14 rivers were flowing above their danger levels at 23 points.
In Mymensingh, rail communications with Jamalpur was disrupted after flood waters overtaken Dewanganj railway station in the early hours of Wednesday.
Railway office sources said that they had to divert trains midway after finding that parts of the rail tracks were submerged in flood waters at places.
It caused a lot of sufferings to the passengers who were behind their schedule because of the unforeseen delay.
Disruption of communication came in the way of disaster responders preventing them from reaching flood victims with help.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Tuesday said that it became very difficult for them to reach flood victims in Bangladesh and neighbouring India and Nepal because of communication disruption.