The flooding, described by a government expert as potentially the country’s worst since 2004, was exacerbated by the runoff from heavy rain across Indian mountains. It continued to rain on Saturday and more is forecast to fall over the next two days.
“Much of the country’s northeast is underwater and the situation is getting worse as heavy downpour continues,” Sylhet region chief administrator Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain said.
The worst-hit Sunamganj district is almost disconnected from the rest of the country, he said, adding that authorities with the help of the army were focused on rescuing those trapped by the flood as well as relief distribution.
“There is shortage of boats, which makes it harder to move people to safer places. Today the navy is joining us in rescue efforts, he said.
Television footage showed roads and railway lines submerged, with people wading through chest-high brown churning waters, carrying their belongings and livestock.
Four people were killed and three injured after rain-triggered landslides struck their houses in the southeasten district of Chittagong early on Saturday, local police official Wali Uddin Akbar said.
Many of Bangladesh’s rivers had risen to dangerous levels, said Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, the head of the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre.
“As floods are still continuing it could be worse than the 2004 flooding,” he said, adding this was the third round of floods to hit the region in two months.
Syed Rafiqul Haque, a former lawmaker and ruling party politician in Sunamganj district, said a humanitarian crisis could emerge if the floods do not recede and proper rescue operations are not conducted.
“The situation is alarming. There is no electricity, no road connection, no mobile network. People are in desperately in need of immediate shelter and food,” he said.
Seasonal monsoon rains, a lifeline for farmers across South Asia, typically cause loss of life and property every year.
Bangladesh has seen more instances of extreme weather in recent years, causing large-scale damage. Environmentalists warn climate change could lead to more disasters in the low-lying and densely populated country.
“People have no contact with people. Especially Sunamganj has been without electricity for two days,” said Alomgir Shahriar, a student of Dhaka University.
“I’m feeling so helpless. I am not able to contact with my family members when they are in such a terrible situation.”