The government has deployed army personnel in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts to speed up flood rescue and relief efforts, according to Divisional Commissioner Mosharraf Hossain.
“The main challenge is to rescue people and bring them to safety,” he said on Friday. “The army is working alongside the local government in rescue operations.”
Asked how many army personnel would be deployed for the task, Mosharraf said he could not immediately provide an answer.
“Army personnel have begun work in Sylhet,” he said. “They will start work in Sunamganj soon. The honourable prime minister has also instructed the Navy to join in.”
The Sylhet region is suffering from its third round of floods this year as heavy rain in India’s Meghalaya and Assam flows downstream.
Nearly all one-storey houses in Sunamganj town are flooded. The Sadar, Dowarabazar, Chatak, Biswambharpur, Tahirpur, South Sunamganj, Jamalganj and Jagannatpur upazilas are all experiencing flooding as well.
The water is rising in Sylhet city. Most parts of the Companyganj, Goainghat, Kanaighat, Jayantapur and Sadar upazilas are also inundated.
Nadar Bakht, the Sunamganj municipal mayor, says there are few shelters available as water floods the city’s roads and homes.
“The entire city is inundated. People are stranded at home. We are doing our best to rescue them. We need many boats right now.”
Local volunteers are trying to help flood victims and have also called on the army for support.
Floodwater has entered the Chatak and Sunamganj power grid substations, forcing the Ministry of Power to take them offline for safety, according to a notice on their Facebook page. This has cut off power to the area.
“The Kumargaon substation is also at risk due to the persistent rain. It may be necessary to shut it down at any time.”
Many educational institutions in the area have flooded, while others are being used for shelter. This has forced the government to suspend SSC and equivalent public exams across the country. The exams were to start on Sunday.
The Surma was flowing 108cm, 70cm and 120cm above the danger level at the Kanaighat, Sylhet and Sunamganj points respectively at 9 am on Friday, the BWDB’s Flood Forecast and Warning Centre said.
Heavy to very heavy rainfall was also predicted for the northern and northeast parts of Bangladesh and the adjoining Assam, Meghalaya and Himalayan foothills of India’s West Bengal in the next 72 hours.
The flood situation may worsen further in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Netrokona in the next 24 hours. The Teesta River could overflow the danger level by then. Low-lying areas in Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur and Kurigram may also flood due to the rains.
The water level will continue to surge in all major rivers in the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and Ganga-Padma basins, including the Surma, Kushiyara, Teesta, Dharla and Dudhkumar in the next 48 hours.