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Flood victims cry out for food

The flood-affected people in different districts, including Sylhet and Sunamganj, are suffering immensely for acute crises of food and safe drinking water.

Floods are playing havoc in different parts of the country. The flood-hit districts include Sylhet, Sunamganj, Netrokona, Sherpur, Jamalpur, Kishoreganj, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha and Rangpur.

As torrential rains ceased, floodwater started to recede in some areas on Sunday. However, many rivers were flowing above the danger level.

“Power supply has partially restored in some areas of Sylhet city after eight hours of disruption around 8:00pm on Saturday,” said Abdul Kadir, chief engineer of Power Development Board, Sylhet.

The power supply to Sylhet was suspended as floodwater entered Kumargaon Power Grid Substation.

Power supply was restored in a number of areas in the city including Jindabazar, Chouhatta, Ambarkhana, Bandarbazar, Nayasarak, Naiurpool, Shahi Eidgah, Tilagarh, Baluchar and Mirer Dokan on Sunday.

Many people have taken shelter in the houses of their relatives while many are staying in the government-declared shelters.

A large number of people still got stranded in their respective houses as they failed to arrange any transport to reach the shelter homes or other safer places.

During a visit to different parts of Sylhet city, it was seen that the roads, shops and dwelling houses were submerged by the floodwater and people were walking through the knee-to-waist deep water.

The prices of daily essentials have shot up in the kitchen markets. Some traders in Sylhet are selling daily necessities at higher prices on the pretext of floods.

While district administration and city corporation officials are busy controlling the flood situation, traders are taking advantage of the opportunity to make additional profits.

Traders from Amberkhana, Bandarbazar and Kalighat in Sylhet sold chira, puffed rice and molasses at the double prices on Saturday. They also sold products at the same price on the pretext of dry food crisis in the market on Sunday.

The water levels of all major rivers in Sunamganj were flowing above the danger mark.                 A limited number of vehicles were plying Sylhet-Sunamganj road as its large parts went under floodwater, effectively cutting off the two districts from each other.

Authorities were also forced to disconnect power and gas supply in some flood-hit areas to avoid the risk of a bigger disaster.

According to the Sylhet district administration, 21,522 people, including women, men and children, have taken shelter in the centres so far. Besides these, 21,102 cattle have been kept in these shelters in separate arrangements.

According to district Sylhet administration sources, rescue operations were being carried out in 13 upazilas of Sylhet from the onset of the flood till Sunday.

Besides, 140 medical teams were also working in the flood-hit areas. Drinking water purification tablets were distributed among the flood victims.

Besides, the district administration has set up four water treatment plants in the flood-hit areas to supply potable water to the flood victims.

Moreover, the district administration distributed 612 tonnes of rice, Tk 42 lakh and 7,900 sacks of dry food in 13 upazilas. Apart from these, puffed rice, candles, saline and other things were also distributed among the flood victims.

Sunamganj district town was isolated from the rest of the country for about three days. Due to lack of electricity and mobile phone network, people of different upazilas were not able to communicate with their family members and relatives.

However, the floodwaters have been receding since Sunday. Mobile phone network and the internet are available from the rooftop of some houses.

The elderly people of Sunamganj said that this is a terrible flood of remembrance in the district. People have never seen so much water and onrush of hilly water from India before.

Sunamganj Sadar, Chhatak, Doarabazar, Tahirpur and Bishwambharpur upazilas were most affected by the floods. These upazilas are bordering India.

The first flood hit Sunamganj on May 13. Heavy rains started again from June 10. At the same time, there is an onrush of hilly water from Meghalaya and Cherrapunji in India. The border upazilas of the district have been flooded again since June 13.

On June 15, Chhatak and Doarabazar upazilas were completely flooded and water entered the Sunamganj municipal town the next day.

Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed on Sunday visited flood-hit areas in Sylhet and inspected the army’s rescue efforts. During his visit, he distributed relief aid among the flood victims.

He was speaking to reporters on Sunday after inspecting the flood-hit areas in Sylhet and the army’s rescue efforts.

General SM Shafiuddin said that Bangladesh Army is making all-out efforts to rescue the flood victims.

He said: “There is a situation that we are all trying to overcome. Not only Bangladesh Army but also all government institutions and agencies are trying their best. Our members are rescuing people from remote areas. Food and medical care are reaching out to them.”

“I came to see on the ground how hard they are doing these things,” he added.

Army members rescued 15 MIST students from Sunamganj on June 18 and 21 students of Dhaka University trapped in Sunamganj were brought to a safe place on Sunday.

Army personnel also rescued 2010 flood victims from Sylhet and Sunamganj, sent them to various shelters, provided medical assistance to 3,625 people and distributed relief to 2,200 people, besides providing potable water to flood victims, distributing water purification drugs and setting up an emergency response cell.

In view of the deteriorating flooding in Netrokona, on June 18, 125 Army members of the 19th Infantry Division from Ghatail area were deployed in Khaliajuri Upazila of Netrokona to control the flood situation, rescue operations, distribute relief and provide medical assistance.

A special team of Bangladesh Air Force observed the flood-affected areas of Sylhet and Sunamganj on Sunday.

All personnel from Army, Navy, Air Force, BGB, Coast Guard and Fire Service and Civil Defence joined the rescue operation and distributed relief among the flood victims.

The government has decided to use Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to re-establish emergency telecommunication services in Sylhet, Sunamganj, Natrokona and other flood-hit districts.

The move comes following the directives of Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar, a press release said.

The Posts and Telecommunications Division has also launched several toll-free helpline numbers for the flood-affected people.

The toll-free numbers are Grameenphone -01769177266, 01769177267, 01769177268, Robi- 01852788000, 01852798800, 01852804477, Banglalink- 01987781144, 01993781144, 01995781144, and Teletalk- 01513918096, 01513918097, 01513918098.

Train services between Dhaka and Sylhet resumed as floodwater started receding in most areas of the district.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman said on Sunday that one lakh people have so far been evacuated from the flood-hit Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.

Nearly 40 lakh people have been marooned in the two districts in one of the worst floods in the region.

Enamur said that the flood situation may worsen in northern parts of the country after Monday.

Referring to the weather report, state the minister said flood water may start to recede from Tuesday and it will continue for three more days as per the report of Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

The overall flood situation deteriorated further in Jamalpur as water of the mighty river Jamuna continued to rise.

Water Development Board sources said during the last 24 hours water level in the river Jamuna rose by 13 cm and was flowing 28 cm above the red mark at Bahadurabad ghat point till 3 pm.

The overall flood situation deteriorated in Netrokona during the last 24 hours following heavy downpour and onrush of hilly water from the upstream.

The district administration said that a total of 3,96,570 people under 10 upazilas of the district have been affected by the flood.

The flood situation deteriorated during the last 24 hours ending at 9:00am Sunday in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Bogura, Jamalpur and Sirajganj districts in the Brahmaputra basin.

 Water levels of major rivers marked further rise at relatively lower rates during the period and were flowing above danger marks (DM) at 12 points inundating more areas and marooning over 1.50 lakh people in these flood-hit eight northern districts.

“In the next 24 hours, the Teesta water level may remain near or above danger marks and flood condition may deteriorate in low-lying areas of Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogura, Jamalpur and Sirajganj in the basin,” a weather forecast said.

Besides this, Chandpur town protection embankment has become vulnerable due to the onrush of water from upstream.

Meanwhile, the government has sent 200 medical teams to Sylhet and Sunamganj districts to provide emergency health services to flood victims.