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Two million stranded as worst floods in decades hit Sylhet

At least 10 people have been killed this week
AFP . Sylhet
22 May 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 22 May 2022 00:23:47
Two million stranded as worst floods in decades hit Sylhet
A man delivers drinking water to houses along a flooded street following heavy rains in Sylhet on Saturday– AFP Photo

Rivers in Sylhet have burst their banks and caused the worst floods in the country’s northeast for nearly two decades, with about two million people marooned by rising waters, officials said Saturday.

Floodwater rushing from India’s northeast breached a major embankment on the Barak River, inundating at least 100 villages at Zakiganj upazila, said Mosharraf Hossain, divisional commissioner of Sylhet.

“Some two million people have been stranded by the floods so far,” he told AFP, adding that at least 10 people have been killed this week.

Many parts of Bangladesh are prone to flooding, and experts say that climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events around the world.

Every extra degree of global warming increases the amount of water in the atmosphere by about seven per cent, with inevitable effects on rainfall.

In Zakiganj, bus driver Shamim Ahmed, 50, told AFP: “My house is under waist-deep water. We have no access to fresh drinking water, so we are harvesting rainwater.

“Rain is simultaneously a blessing and a curse for us now.”

People were seen fishing on submerged roads, and some residents took their cattle to flood shelters.

All the furniture in widow Laila Begum’s home was ruined, she said, but she and her two daughters were staying put, hoping the waters would recede within a day or two.

“My two daughters and I put one bed on top of another and are living on top of it,” she said. “There’s a scarcity of food. We’re sharing one person’s food and one meal a day.”

Floodwater has entered many parts of Sylhet city, the largest in the northeast, where another official told AFP about 50,000 families have been without power for days.

Mosharraf Hossain, the chief administrator of the region, said the flooding was driven by both rain and the onrush of water from hills across the border in the Indian state of Assam.

But officials said the broken embankment on the border at Zakiganj could only be fixed once the water level dropped.