1.5m marooned in Sylhet, Sunamganj

1.5m marooned in Sylhet, Sunamganj

Nearly one-and-half million people were marooned in three days as fresh flood struck Sylhet and surrounding districts due to a heavy downpour and continuous onrush of water from upstream Meghalaya and Assam states of India.

Debajit Singha, the additional divisional commissioner of Sylhet, said that until Wednesday nearly 140 unions out of 152 were flooded by rainwater and onrush of water from upstream India in the Sylhet district, affecting around 7.5 lakh people.

Some 18,000 people rushed to 627 shelters in the Sylhet district, he said.

Seventy-two unions out 82 were flooded affecting around 6.5 lakh people in Sunamganj, the government official said, adding that 15,000 people rushed to shelters in the district.

The low-lying areas in Sunamganj already were inundated on Wednesday in the flash flood caused by heavy rain and onrush of hilly water from the upstream region, marooning over one lakh people of the affected areas.

Local people and public representatives said that the sadar, Chhatak, Dowarabazar and Madhyanagar were the worst affected upazilas in the district by the recent flooding.

They said that low-lying areas of different upazilas in the district started getting inundated since Tuesday night that intensified on Wednesday early morning due to a torrential downpour.

Sunamganj Water Development Board executive engineer Mamun Howlader said that the River Surma was flowing 145 centimetre above the danger level at Chhatak upazila and 43 cm above the danger level at Shola Shahar in the district town at 3:00pm on Wednesday.

Jagannathpur upazila nirbahi officer Al Bashirul Islam said in the afternoon that 143 flood shelter centres were opened in the upazila and several hundred flood-hit people, whose homes already were inundated by the floodwater, took shelter in different centres by the afternoon.

Sunamganj deputy commissioner Rashed Iqbal Chowdhury said in the afternoon that the flood situation might deteriorate further if the onrush of water from upstream accompanied by incessant rainfall continued.

‘We have all kinds of preparations to deal with the situation if it deteriorates further,’ he added.
Some areas in Moulavibazar were also flooded. 

Hundreds of residents of the low-lying areas, including Sylhet divisional city, were forced to run for safe ground and flood shelter centres in early morning on the day of Eid-ul-Azha, the second largest religious festival of Muslims, as the floodwater submerged their houses promptly.

Thousands of worshippers were forced to offer their Eid prayers at mosques amid incessant rain at different eidgahs across the regions on Monday morning and maximum of the families also faced serious difficulty in slaughtering their sacrificial animals as most parts in the 42 wards of the city and 13 upazilas across the district went under the floodwater this time, local residents said.

Earlier on May 28, a flash flood had also affected more than one million people in the district, including 30 wards out of 42 in the city, adding immense sufferings to the flood-stricken people, who have suffered from another devastating flood in less than 3 weeks.

Deputy commissioner Sheikh Russell Hasan of Sylhet in a bulletin issued on Wednesday morning, however, said that the river water level increased drastically and the flood situation in all upazilas, including the city areas, worsened due to continuous rains and onrush of water.

The bulletin mentioned that 6,75,937 people of 21 wards in the city and 1323 villages at 116 unions under 13 upazilas in the district were affected so far.

‘A total of 17,285 flood-stricken people so far had taken shelters in 627 flood shelter centres, including 80 centres in the city,’ the deputy commissioner said in the statement.  

It mentioned that 123 unions, including 21 wards of the city corporation that were more than 80 per cent of the total areas of the district had been flooded till Wednesday morning.

‘Heavy rain is forecasted for the next three days. If this situation continues, the flood situation may worsen further,’ the official statement said, adding that the overall situation was kept under a strict watch.

Road communications to the city from the headquarters of Gowainghat, Companiganj and Kanaighat upazilas remained suspended since Tuesday as parts of different roads leading to the city went under floodwater, local people said.

To deal with the situation, the Sylhet City Corporation authorities on Tuesday cancelled leave of its officers and employees.

With the Baraikandi power sub-station in the Dakshin Surma area in the city under threat of being closed due to incessant rain and swelling up of water of the Surma River, Sylhet city mayor Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury requested the Bangladesh Army to take necessary measures to protect the power sub-station from floodwater.

‘A team of the army in association with the power development board and water development board is working to keep the power sub-station operational,’ the mayor said on Wednesday morning.

The SCC mayor also convened an emergency coordination meeting of the authorities of the city corporation, district administration and divisional commissioner’s office on Tuesday evening at Nagar Bhaban.

Emerging from the meeting, the mayor told a press briefing that all kinds of measures to provide shelter, food, pure drinking water and medical services to the flood-stricken people had been ensured.

Local residents said that streets and houses in maximum areas in the city were under water till Wednesday morning.

Mahram Ali, a Zakiganj police station sub-inspector, said on Wednesday noon that the body of Abdul Halim, 55, a pickup van driver, was recovered in the afternoon from a place near Muhidpur village under the police station.

The police officer said that the strong current of the floodwater washed Halim away at noon while he was fishing in a canal near his house.   

To prioritise the public safety and protect the life and property of visitors, all tourist spots, including Jaflong, Sadapathar, Bichhnakandi, Ratargul Swamp Forest and Panthumai were declared closed till issuance of further instruction in this regard, local administration officials said.

Almost all of the major rivers, including the Surma and Kusiyara, were flowing above danger levels in Sylhet at noon.

The Surma was flowing 89 centimetre and 35 cm above danger marks at Kanaighat and Sylhet city point respectively at noon. While the Kusiyara was flowing 97 cm, 50 cm and 18 cm above danger marks at Fenchuganj, Amalshid at Jakiganj and Sherpur respectively, according to the WDB.

The Sylhet meteorological office recorded 82.2 millimetre rainfall in Sylhet within 6 hours between 6:00am and 12 noon on Wednesday and 100mm in 24 hours until 6:00am on Wednesday.

The met office recorded 333mm rainfall at Lalakhal in Sylhet within 24 hours until Tuesday at 6:00am.

Disaster management and relief affairs state minister Md Mohibur Rahman MP reached at Osmani International Airport in Sylhet at about 12:45pm to inspect the flood situation, SCC mayor Anwaruzzaman said.