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Flooding in Sylhet region : More rains threaten to worsen situation

More downpour is threatening to worsen the flood situation in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Moulvibazar which has caused immense suffering to over a million people.

With continuous rain submerging more villages and towns, thousands have sought refuge in flood shelters.

In Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, about 1.25 million people have been affected by the flood. In Sylhet, low-lying areas of the city and all 13 upazilas are flooded, stranding over 675,000 people. In Sunamganj, another 560,000 people are affected.

Of those marooned, 17,825 in Sylhet and 12,500 in Sunamganj have moved to shelters provided by the administration. In Moulvibazar district, severe floods have stranded residents in 432 villages, affecting 193,990 people.

At 9:00am today, according to Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), the Surma River was flowing 91cm above the danger level in Sylhet’s Kanaighat, down from 122 cm yesterday. In Chatak upazila of Sunamganj, the river was above 146 cm of the danger level, reduced from 158 cm yesterday evening. Despite these reductions, the Surma remains above danger levels in Sylhet city (37 cm), Sunamganj town (40 cm), and Dirai in Sunamganj (16 cm).

According to BWDB, the Kushiyara was flowing 46cm above the danger level at Amalshid point in Zakiganj, 92cm in Fenchuganj, and 12cm in Sherpur. The Gowain River was flowing 9cm above the danger mark at Gowainghat upazila in Sylhet.

According to the Meteorological Department, Sunamganj city recorded 100mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours. Laudergarh in Sunamganj’s Tahirpur received 78 mm, Chaatak 84 mm, and Dirai in Tahirpur upazila 77 mm. In the same period, Sylhet city recorded 94 mm of rainfall, Kanaighat 77 mm, and Sherpur 75 mm.

The Meteorological Department today issued a warning for heavy rainfall in Sylhet for the next 72 hours. Shahinul Islam, a meteorologist at the Met Office in Dhaka, warned of heavy (44-88 mm) to very heavy (more than 89 mm) rainfall in the Sylhet division, along with possible landslides.

Deputy Commissioner of Sunamganj Mohammad Rashed Iqbal Chowdhury said, “Due to less upstream rain, Surma River’s water level has decreased a little. As a result, flood water in the city has receded. However, the rain forecast doesn’t bear good news. We are monitoring the situation round the clock”.

Sheikh Russel Hasan, the deputy commissioner of Sylhet, said, “The Bangladesh Army has been protecting Sylhet’s Baraikandi power substation from flooding since last night. The situation isn’t critical yet, but the army remains prepared.”

In Moulavibazar, continuous rain since Monday has inundated the lower areas of seven upazilas including Sadar and Rajnagar.

The district administration reported that 37 of the 72 unions in Moulvibazar are affected by floods. Ninety-eight shelters have opened to accommodate displaced residents.

“Our house is floating on knee-deep water. Better preparedness after the 2022 floods could have prevented this suffering,” said Mifta Mia, a resident of Mahila College Road, Kulaura.

The greater Hakaluki Haor area, spanning Kulaura, Juri, and Barlekha upazilas, has been flooded too. Heavy rainfall has also caused flooding in the low-lying areas of Srimangal and Kamalganj upazilas.

Shahajan Mia, a resident of Hamrekona village in Khalilpur Union, shared his plight.

“We couldn’t even perform the Eid prayer, sacrifice properly. The water is rising. We don’t know when this suffering will be over,” he said.

Moulvibazar Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Nasrin Chowdhury urged residents to move to shelters.

“All educational institutions have been declared as shelters,” she said.

Deputy Commissioner of Moulvibazar, Urme Binte Salam, said, “As more rain is feared, we have prepared all necessary measures. A committee comprising UNOs from each upazila has been formed to monitor the situation closely.”