DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNS) — Emergency services and church aid groups have rushed to assist thousands of people affected by a landslide that killed at least 136 people, injured dozens and made thousands homeless in southeastern Bangladesh.
Ucanews.com reported that heavy rain from June 11-12, triggered by a depression in the Bay of Bengal, caused mudslides in Rangamati, Bandarban and Chittagong districts, cutting off road links, telephone and electricity connections.
Most of the victims are from poor, indigenous communities living close to the hills, near the borders with India and Myanmar. They were buried under tons of earth and mud while they were asleep at night.
James Gomes, regional director of the Catholic aid agency Caritas in Chittagong, said his agency had conducted a situational assessment to offer emergency aid to affected people.
“We are collaborating with the government to calculate the number of fatalities and affected people,” Gomes told ucanews.com on his way to visit Rangamati district by boat.
“We have to assess their immediate needs first, be it food or medicine. Soon we will issue unconditional cash grants of 5,000 taka (US$60), build shelters if necessary and also offer ‘cash for work’ opportunities,” he said.
Iftekharul Islam, director of relief operations for the Department of Disaster Management, told ucanews.com that the death toll could rise because many areas remained inaccessible.
The disaster occurred just weeks after Cyclone Mora lashed Bangladesh’s southeastern coast, killing at least seven and wrecking tens of thousands of homes.
Located on the floodplains of the world’s largest river-delta system, which empties into the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh faces constant threats and destruction from natural disasters such as cyclones and flooding, ucanews.com reported. The country was ranked sixth among the top 10 sufferers of climate change-related extreme weather events in the 2017 Global Climate Risk Index by the global climate advocacy group Germanwatch.