25,000 more marooned in Sylhet as flood worsens
A massive onrush of floodwater swept through at least 10 bordering villages by the Kushiyara river bank in Sylhet on Friday afternoon after toppling an important flood protection embankment, marooning 25,000 people.
Many of these newly flood-affected people in Zakiganj of Sylhet were likely to end up in flood shelters while emergency government responders to the deteriorating situation said that lives were at stake because of the sudden flooding.
The flood protection embankment that eventually gave in to the continued onrush of water following extreme rain upstream was located at the place the Barak river entered Bangladesh from India, assuming the name Kushiyara.
‘Right at the moment, a massive volume of water is passing through the populated villages,’ said Gopal Krishna Debnath, additional chief engineer, Sylhet division, Local Government Engineering Department, around 5:00 pm on Friday.
LGED officials rushed to the spot for repairing the flood protection embankment, a task they said seemed undoable as the Barak continued to pass a massive amount of water towards Bangladesh, washing away houses, trees and livestock.
No casualties, however, were reported immediately after the collapse of the flood protection embankment by the Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Zakiganj, AKM Faysal, until 8:00 pm.
Zakiganj, where 31 flood shelters had been opened until Friday, expected to receive a flood of people needing shelter as more villages downstream were likely to be submerged, government officials said.
‘We have ordered all educational institutions to open their premises for people needing shelter,’ said Faysal.
As Sylhet reeled under the devastating flash flooding, the rapidly rising Padma and Jamuna disrupted ferry services over Aricha-Kazirhat and Paturia-Daulatdia river crossings, two major ferry services connecting road communication between the capital and dozens of districts.
The collapse of the important flood protection embankment in Sylhet spelt bad news for people living in Sylhet and downstream amid forecasts of extreme rain in upstream areas through Sunday.
The north-eastern district of Sylhet, including the Sylhet City Corporation, has been torn by flash flooding since Tuesday.
Many people in Sylhet, including in the city, passed yet another day without electricity, the supply of which was obstructed by flood waves toppling electric poles or sweeping through power substations.
New Age’s staff correspondent in Sylhet reported that the Surma river subsided very slowly leading to a very slow recession of water from the city.
Hundreds of kilometres of roads remained submerged in water, cutting off people at many places from surface communication. According to the district relief and rehabilitation office, floodwaters overtook at least 80 per cent of Sylhet district.
The Sylhet divisional office of Roads and Highways estimated that flooding affected about 100 kilometres of roads in Sylhet and Sunamganj.
Flash flooding swept away four culverts and a rubber dam in Sunamganj over the last few days, officials said, adding that the rubber dam had protected 1,000 hectares of cropland against flash flooding and also served as a means of diverting water for irrigation from the river.
The district LGED office in Sunamganj estimated that 175 kilometres of rural roads have been affected by flooding. Approach roads to many bridges and local river ghats have also been washed away by the flooding.
‘The roads are still submerged with new areas going under flood water every day,’ said Mahbub Alam, executive engineer, LGED, Sunamganj.
The north-eastern part of Bangladesh is a land depression at the feet of massive mountainous terrain. Runoff following extreme rain across the border, home to the world’s one of wettest places, could hit Bangladesh within hours.
Obstruction of water flow through barrages and deforestation of hills for development projects and infrastructure made matters complicated for Bangladesh with regard to water management.
The Surma and Kushiyara flowed above their danger marks at five points in Sylhet and Sunamganj until Friday, said Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre.
This is the third wave of flash flooding endured by the north-east of Bangladesh since April. Many farmers in the region had to take home half-ripen boro giving rise to fear of losing significant boro production this year due to flash flooding.
In the 24-hour until 9:00am Bangladesh time on Friday, India Meteorological Department said, Meghalaya received 148 per cent of above-normal rain, followed by 96 per cent of excess rain in Assam, 62 per cent of above rain in Arunachal Pradesh and 154 per cent of above-normal rain in Mizoram and 483 per cent of excess rain in Tripura.
FFWC warned that the flood situation in Sunamganj, Netrakona and Habiganj may deteriorate today.
Out of 109 river gauging stations, 78 reported swelling in the water levels over the 24-hour reporting cycle until 9:00am on Friday.
The water flow in the Teesta, Dharla and Dudhkumar rivers has become stabilised, the FFWC said.
A feared flood in the northern region threatens to severely impact this year’s boro production. Boro is the country’s main grain and is yet to be harvested in the north, considered the rice basket of the country.
The Brahmaputra, Ganges, Jamuna and Padma swelled by up to three feet in the latest 24-hour reporting cycle. The Padma is predicted to be swelling through Monday.
New Age correspondent in Manikganj reported that the swelling Padma and Jamuna disrupted ferry services over the Aricha-Kazirhat and Paturia-Daulatdia river crossings on Friday.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department predicted widespread rain over Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dhaka, Mymensingh and Sylhet today.