Authorities in Bangladesh began relief operations on Wednesday after rain-triggered landslides killed at least 149 people in the country’s south-east, officials said.
The government allocated 375 metric tons of rice and 5,000,000 taka (62,000 dollars) to distribute among the affected people as an emergency response to the tragedy, said Hammadul Baqui, an official at the disaster management control room in Dhaka.
At least 105 bodies were found in the district of Rangamati, 36 in Chittagong and six others in neighbouring Bandarban after 48 hours of ceaseless rains that lasted until Tuesday, he said.
Baqui added that the firefighters have retrieved the bodies of a young child and her father after they were buried in fresh mudslide in Cox’s Bazar district, more than 300 kilometres south-east of the capital Dhaka.
Manzarul Mannan, Chief of Rangamati District Administration, said the rescuers have reached most corners of the affected areas on the second day of their search operations in spite it was terribly difficult.
“They had to walk for long miles or to travel by boats to the remote areas as road communications in the hills were cut off at many places because of the mudslides and toppled trees,” Mannan said.
He hoped to lunch a full-fledged damage assessment mission by Thursday.
The government pledged to provide essential support to help victims overcome the disaster, senior minister, Obaidul Quader told a meeting in Rangamati hill district after distributing cash and food support to the families of those killed in the landslides.
Quader, the second in command in the ruling Awami League party, also ordered an assessment of damages to homes and crops, said disaster management official Harun-ur Rashid.
Rescuers pulled at least 100 bodies from beneath chunks of mud that buried hillside homes at different parts of Rangamati, said Rashid earlier.
The death toll may rise as disaster response teams began a second day of rescue operations in the remote areas, he added.
More than 4,000 people who lost their homes were evacuated to shelters run by the local administrations.
Bangladesh’s meteorological department forecast more rain in the hilly region for Wednesday after the country experienced heavy monsoon rains Monday due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal.
Meteorologist Meghnath Tunchangya warned that heavy rains may trigger further landslides in the hilly areas.
The disaster came less than two weeks after tropical cyclone Mora killed eight people and damaged thousands of homes along the south-eastern coast of Bangladesh.