Bangladesh’s monsoon storms have killed at least 25 people and caused devastating flooding, leaving more than four million others stranded, officials said on Saturday.
Floods are a regular threat to millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh, but experts say climate change is increasing its frequency, ferocity and unpredictability.
Relentless downpours over the past week have inundated large areas of the country’s northeast with troops deployed to evacuate households cut off from neighboring communities.
Schools have been converted into shelters to house entire villages that have been flooded in a matter of hours by rivers that suddenly burst their banks.
“The whole village was flooded early Friday and we were all stranded,” said Lokman, whose family lives in Companyganj village.
“After waiting all day on the roof of our house, a neighbor rescued us with a makeshift boat. My mother said she has never seen such floods in her life,” added the 23-year-old.
Asma Akter, another woman rescued from the rising waters, said her family had not been able to eat for two days.
“The water rose so fast that we couldn’t take any of our stuff with us,” she said. “And how can you cook anything if everything is under water?”
Lightning strikes caused by the storms have killed at least 21 people in the South Asian country since Friday afternoon, police officials told AFP.
Among them were three children between the ages of 12 and 14 who were struck by lightning on Friday in the rural town of Nandail, local police chief Mizanur Rahman said.
Four more people were killed when landslides hit their homes on the hills in the port city of Chittagong, police inspector Nurul Islam told AFP.
– ‘The situation is bad’ –
The flooding worsened on Saturday morning after a temporary reprieve from rain the previous afternoon, Mosharraf Hossain, chief executive of the Sylhet region, told AFP.
“The situation is bad. More than four million people have been stranded by flooding,” Hossain said, adding that almost the entire region was without electricity.
Flooding forced Bangladesh’s third-largest international airport in Sylhet to close on Friday.
Forecasters said the flooding would worsen over the next two days with heavy rains in Bangladesh and upriver in northeastern India.
Before this week’s rains, the Sylhet region was still recovering from its worst flooding in nearly 20 years late last month, killing at least 10 people and affecting four million others.
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