Md Sohel, who along with his family left his home and took shelter at the Rangamati Radio Centre after the devastating landslides claimed 114 lives, says he has barely eaten anything in the last four days.
As many as 120 people from the nearby Natunpara, Vedvedi, just outside the municipal area, were moved to the radio centre after the landslides. The landslides have left a trail of destruction in major parts of the Rangamati hill district.
Most homes in Natunpara are now completely buried under earth that slid down from nearby hills last week after a day of rain.
People who have taken refuge in various shelters and public buildings in the city are saying they have been living like animals. There is an acute shortage of drinking water and food all around the city.
“All my valuables are now buried under the earth. I have eaten almost nothing in the last four days. It is the drinking water which is badly needed here,” said Md Sohel.
Visiting different shelters, this correspondent found that people were waiting agonizingly for relief materials.
The landslides have taken a heavy toll on the road communication of the hill district.
As of Saturday afternoon, vehicular movement from Rangamati city to Manikchari, Khagrachari was restored partially. However, no heavy vehicles were seen in the city. This is the only road connecting the city to the rest of the nation.
At Rangamati General Hospital, the harsh and sorrowful wailing of the fifty-year-old Hosne Ara Begum echoed through the walls.
The woman lost five of her family members in the landslides.
Lying on a bed of the hospital with critical injuries to her waist, the shell-shocked survivor from Vedvedi narrated the horrors of the fateful night.
“It was pouring heavily since Tuesday night. All of us were asleep at that time in the house. It was in dead of the night when the hill collapsed on our tin-shed house with a loud thunder,” she said.
Breaking into tears, Hosne Ara said: “I cannot recollect exactly what happened next. Later, I discovered myself in thick mud up to my waist. When I finally managed to pull myself out of the mud and learned that my husband, two sons, a daughter and a granddaughter were killed in the landslide.”
Another survivor, Sonamoni Chakma, is so shocked by grief he has been unable to cry.
Having lost his wife, three-year old son and sister-in-law in the landslide. the survivor is now struck dumb with shock and trauma.
Upon insistence, Sonamoni said that he had moved his family from Kuduk Chari to Vedvedi area in Rangamati in hopes of ensuring a better education for his son.
On that fateful night, his wife, son and sister-in-law were asleep on the bed while he was sleeping on the floor of the house.
“Massive chunks of land collapsed on the house with a deafening sound in the night. My entire body except for my hands was buried under the earth. Somehow I managed to come out. I began to call my wife and baby boy and at one stage I fainted. Regaining consciousness, I discovered myself on a hospital bed,” said Sonamoni.
The man began to weep on the hospital bed.
“I cherished a dream of educating my boy. Now I am ruined. My son will never call me daddy,” he said.
Md Nobi lost six of his family members in the landslide. He lost his wife, two daughters, a son and granddaughter. His son Suman and son-in-law Sohel survived the tragedy.
Talking to this reporter, Suman said: “All of us were buried under the avalanche. We were rescued alive by the locals and Fire Service personnel. The doctors have referred my father to Chittagong Medical College Hospital for better treatment.
“The doctors said that mud has entered his lungs. We have lost everything in the landslide and have no money for treatment,” said the survivor.
Speaking to reporters, Manzarul Mannan, deputy commissioner of Rangamati, said that the administration were yet to fully ascertain damage triggered by the deadly landslides.
Asked why there had been delays in ascertaining damage, the DC said: “Apart from breaking houses the landslides also killed livestock. That is why we are taking a little time to ascertain the damage caused by the landslides properly.
“We are doing everything that we can possibly do in this deadly disaster. We are sending dry food and rice to the affected areas and shelters. Besides, we are also conducting drives through mobile courts to keep the prices of essentials at reasonable levels,” the DC said.
Although the Rangamati district administration has wrapped up rescue operations in the district, firefighters are still conducting rescue operations on specific information, he said.
The death toll in Rangamati alone has climbed to 114 while landslides in Chittagong have killed 32, six in Bandarban, and two each in Khagrachari and Cox’s Bazar.