Heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 46 people in southeast Bangladesh, most of them buried under landslides, authorities said Tuesday.
Police warned that the death toll would likely rise as emergency workers reached remote parts of the affected area, where telephone and transport links had been cut.
“The recovery work is still going on. The death toll could rise as many areas still remained cut off,” the head of the Department of Disaster Management Reaz Ahmed told AFP.
Ahmed said disaster response teams had been deployed to the affected areas to reinforce recovery work.
“We have not been able to reach many of the affected places. Once the rains are over, we’ll get a full picture of the damage and get the recovery work in full swing,” he said.
Many of the victims were from tribal communities in the remote hill district of Rangamati, close to the Indian border, where 24 people were killed when mudslides buried their homes.
“Some of them were sleeping in their houses on hillsides when the landslides occurred,” district police chief Sayed Tariqul Hasan told AFP.
Six were killed in the nearby district of Bandarban, among them three children, siblings who were buried by a landslide as they slept in their home.
Another 16 of the casualties were in the neighboring district of Chittagong, where at least 126 people were killed when a massive landslide buried a village a decade ago.
The latest disaster came weeks after Cyclone Mora smashed into Bangladesh’s southeast, killing at least eight people and damaging tens of thousands of homes.
Monsoon rains in Bangladesh’s southern hill districts frequently trigger deadly landslides.
Heavy monsoon rains also pounded the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong in the district of the same name, which experienced 222 millimetres of rain, disrupting traffic for hours.
Among the victims were four soldiers who had been sent to clear roads in Rangamati district after an earlier landslide.
Thousands of troops are stationed in Rangamati, where a tribal insurgency raged for two decades, and which still suffers sporadic violence.
“The soldiers were sent to clear roads hit by landslide in Manikchhari town when they themselves buried by a second landslide,” armed forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Rashidul Hassan told AFP.