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Monday, August 27, 2007
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Flood death toll crosses 700

The flood-related death toll went up to 702 yesterday since July 30 this year and most of the casualties were caused by drowning in floodwaters.

A number of rivers saw rise in water levels yesterday but experts do not expect more flooding in the country.

A total of 619 people were drowned including eight yesterday due to the floods which inundated a huge portion of the low-lying lands of the country. Snakebites caused death to 48 people while 15 people died of respiratory tract infections (RTI) and 13 of diarrhoea.

A number of water-borne diseases including diarrhoea, RTI, conjunctivitis and skin diseases also spread across the flood-hit areas as soon as the floodwater receded. A total of 2,379 people were infected with diarrhoea yesterday raising the total number to 85,555 since July 30.

The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases and Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), the lone specialised centre for diarrhoea, had around 400 new patients admitted between midnight to 5:00pm yesterday.

"It shows a sharp decline in the number of diarrhoea patients which was high in the first week of this month," Scientist and Head of Shorter Stay Unit of ICDDR,B Shahadat Hussain told The Daily Star. However, the number of people being infected with other water-borne diseases is yet to show significant fall.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services control room report, around 717 people were infected with RTI across the flood-hit areas of the country raising the number to 22,808 since July 30.

Meanwhile, the number of patients with skin diseases stood at 23,574 with further 655 new infections yesterday and the number of patients infected with conjunctivitis went up to 7,422 with 426 newly infected yesterday.

The flood situation in the country is likely to improve further as the falling trend of the major rivers including the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and the Ganges-Padma is expected to continue, according to Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC).

However, the flash-flood-prone rivers in the northeast and south-eastern parts of the country experienced swelling due to onrush of water from upstream. The south-eastern hilly river of Muhuri at Parshuram swelled 184cm, the Sangu swelled 55cm at Bandarban and the Feni swelled 36cm at Ramgarh. The Halda, however, fell 105cm at Narayanhat.

The water level of the Surma at Kanaighat marked a 62cm rise and 8cm rise at Sylhet, the Kushiara swelled 70cm at Amalshid and 35cm at Sheola, the Manu 152cm at Manu Railway Bridge and 130cm at Moulvibazar and the Khowai 55cm at Habiganj. Besides, the Gumti at Comilla swelled 89cm.

However, Rezaul Karim, deputy director FFWC, told The Daily Star, "Even though the water level is rising in those rivers we are not fearing any flood in the Meghna basin as rivers are still flowing below danger levels.

The water levels of the Brahmaputra and the Jamuna continued to fall and are likely to fall further in the next 24-72 hours. The water level of the Padma also started falling and is likely to continue its downward trend in the next 24-72 hours. The Padma at Goalundo and Bhagyakul receded slightly and is likely to show the same trend in the next 24-72 hours.

Flood situation in the districts of Faridpur, Rajbari, Madaripur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Chandpur and Dohar and Nawabganj upazilas of Dhaka is likely to improve further.

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