Committed to PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO KNOW
Vol. 5 Num 58 Sat. July 24, 2004  
   
Front Page


Rail, road links with capital threatened
Official death toll 202, breach in Chandpur embankment, Bogra dam vulnerable to collapse


Raging floods that relive the memory of the 1988 devastating deluge inundated half a kilometre of rail tracks in Brahmanbaria and part of Dhaka-Aricha Road yesterday, threatening the capital's rail links to Chittagong and long-haul travels to the south by road.

Tens of thousands of people are struggling against chaos in the flood-ravaged central district of Munshiganj surrounded by three rivers rising by the day.

Officials of the local administration in Bogra announced by loudspeaker that 45 kilometres of the flood control dam there are highly vulnerable to collapse as the water levels in the Brahmaputra river overtook all records.

Hundreds of people scrambled to repair the Meghna-Dhonagoda embankment in Matlab upazila in Chandpur that collapsed in part as floodwater gushed through an opening of about 100 feet spreading panic in the neighbourhood.

The official death toll in flooding that has submerged half of Bangladesh rose to 202 as floodwater spread to the heart of the capital, the official news agency BSS said.

Slum dwellers living on the fringes of the city are the worst affected -- struggling to build new homes from bamboo and plastic sheeting on higher ground. People in outlying areas took to boats and rafts crafted out of banana trees for an easy access to safety.

Thousands of people living their days out without medicine and drinking water were taken ill with diarrhoea in the northern, northeastern and central districts as the waterborne disease is spreading fast, according to news dispatches from different correspondents.

Villagers complained of inadequate relief to the flood-hit areas. Food and Disaster Management Minister Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf issued a warning that no nepotism and corruption or waste of relief would be tolerated.

DEADLY DELUGE

The railroads between Bhatshala and Paghachong Railway Station in the central district of Brahmanbaria are reeling under floodwater that washed away stones under sleepers.

The stretch of Dhaka-Aricha Road from Baniajuri and Pukuria went under water, threatening to force traffic off the highway, as the floods are ravaging at least 41 districts affecting more than 20 million people in what could be the worst in memory since 1988.

The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre reported that the floods in the northern and central districts are likely to worsen.

Our Brahmanbaria correspondent reports that two people drowned in Kharera Gupinathpur village in Kasba upazila, when a boat carrying up to 12 people capsized in gushing water. Three more people died of diarrhoea in the district.

The flood situation in Sylhet showed a little improvement as floodwater continued to recede from some upazilas, but the floods in other upazilas remained unchanged as the Kushiyara river was in full spate.

The situation in Sunamganj marked a little improvement although the Surma river was flowing 81cm above the danger mark. Many areas in town were reeling 4 to 5 feet under water. With a new death in Sadar upazila yesterday, the total death count in the southeastern district climbed to 17 since the first week of July.

BSS reports: Seven people, including three children, drowned in Boalia village in Kishoreganj yesterday evening, when an overcrowded boat carrying 35 people to a relief camp sank.

Most houses, businesses and government offices in Habiganj town remained 3 to 4 feet under water and road links between the district headquarters and Baniachang, Lakhai and Nabiganj upazilas were cut off.

Our Bogra correspondent reports the government provided as little as 61 paisa on average for each flood victim in seven upazilas in the district.

Thousands of flood victims are waiting for food, but 281 tonnes of rice are in stock in a government warehouse, as the authorities did not prepare the final list of victims for relief.

Five boys and girls at ages 5 to 8 drowned in the flood-hit Shariatpur district, private news agency UNB said.

Twenty-two people of Chandipur in Naira were injured as houses collapsed because of strong currents.

Two more people drowned in Sundarganj and Mohimaganj upazila and two others died of diarrhoea, our Gaibandha correspondent reports.

Two minor girls drowned in floodwater on Wednesday night in Kamalpur village in Gournadi, our Barisal correspondent said.

About 12 lakh people have been stranded in submerged villages, our Manikganj correspondent reports.

The floods in Kurigram have already become worse than in 1988. Our Rangpur correspondent reports the situation deteriorated in Rangpur, Kurigram and Lalmonirhat.

Picture
Dhaka-Chittagong rail links run the risk of snapping, as floodwater submerged tracks between Bhatshala and Paghachong stations yesterday. PHOTO: STAR