Landslides kill at least 15, displace millions, in Bangladesh and India

Hundreds of thousands of people are stranded by flash floods and heavy rains with the country’s refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims being the most affected.

Bangladesh landslides
A man wades through floodwaters in Sylhet [AFP]

Heavy monsoon rains have triggered landslides in Bangladesh and India, killing at least 15 people, injuring several others and displacing millions, according to officials.

Eight Rohingya Muslims were among those killed by mudslides in the early hours of Wednesday, Mohammad Shamsud Douza, a senior Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said. The disaster is the latest in a series triggered by extreme weather in South Asia and around the globe, with heavy rains and heatwaves having killed many people and caused humanitarian crises in recent months.

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The refugees died in landslides in southern Bangladesh. More than one million Rohingya live in crowded camps in the border district of Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee settlement, after fleeing a military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar in 2017.

Amir Jafar, a police official in command of security in the refugee camps, said hundreds had been moved from areas deemed at risk.

The Rohingya refugees mostly live in shacks made of bamboo and plastic sheets, often on steep, bare hills.

Bangladesh landslides
Flood-affected people take temporary shelter at a school in Sylhet [AFP]

The rains also unleashed chaos in northeastern Bangladesh.

“At least 700,000 people have been stranded by flash floods and heavy rains in Sylhet district, and another 500,000 people in neighbouring Sunamganj district,” Abu Ahmed Siddique, commissioner of Bangladesh’s northeastern Sylhet district, told the AFP news agency.

The Bangladesh weather office said it expected heavy rains to continue for the next few days.

The nation of about 170 million people is among the countries most vulnerable to disasters and climate change, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.

Just over the border, in neighbouring India’s state of Assam, at least six people were killed in floods and landslides on Tuesday night.

“A landslide buried a woman and her three daughters alive,” a state disaster management official, Siju Das, told Reuters.

“Their house was on a slope, and they died on the spot around midnight,” he said, adding that the bodies were retrieved after a three-hour search operation by rescuers.

More than 160,000 people were affected by the weather conditions in Assam, with waters surpassing the danger level in the Kopili, one of the largest tributaries of the Brahmaputra, which ranks among India’s biggest rivers.

More than 30 people in the state have died since the end of May in floods and landslides brought by heavy rain, officials said.

Meanwhile, to the south, the country is sweltering under a vicious heatwave.

New Delhi recorded its hottest night in six years on Tuesday, with hospitals in the city of 30 million reporting at least five deaths from heatstroke this week, the Times of India newspaper said.

Source: News Agencies