Two more killed as torrential rain destroys shanties in Cox’s Bazar’s Rohingya camps
Torrential downpour over the last few days caused landslides in all three districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts yesterday, killing at least two people and disrupting communication on both roads and waterways.
Our correspondents in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari reported that people are marooned in several places due to heavy flooding, caused by the rain.
Meanwhile, nearly 3,400 makeshift houses in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar were destroyed due to the rain, killing two people and rendering more than 2,700 refugees homeless, according to a press statement issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency, Cox’s Bazar office.
In Rangamati, chunks of mud collapsed on tin-shed houses in Kalabagan of the Karnaphuli Paper Mill area, in the district’s Kaptai upazila, around 12:30pm yesterday.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Kaptai police station OC Md Nasir Uddin said when informed, fire fighters from the local Fire Service office rushed to the spot and rescued four people – a woman named Tahmina Akter, 25, her parents Md Gafur, 54, and Bilkis Begum, 43, and a child named Surya Mallik, 6 – from the debris of the crushed houses.
They were sent to the Christian Hospital Chandraghona in Kaptai, where the doctors on duty pronounced Tahmina and Surya dead. Tahmina’s parents are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
The local met office recorded 170mm rainfall in Rangamati from 6am on Sunday to 6am yesterday.
Another landslide was reported at Bamechhara in the Langadu upazila yesterday afternoon, with no report of casualties. But the road communication between Langadu and Khagrachhari’s Dighinala upazila was suspended.
Langadu Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Prabir Kumar Roy, while inspecting the damage at the spot, said: “A small hill collapsed on the road, which is why vehicular movement is suspended for now. We will start removing the debris once the rain lets up a little.”
In another incident of landslide, at least 14 kilometres of road between Ruma and Thanchi upazilas in Bandarbanwere blocked yesterday, affecting communication in the area.
Meanwhile, at least 30 tourists are stranded in different tourist spots in the district as the water in Sangu River has surpassed the safe level after four days of rain.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Thanchi police station OC Zubayerul Haque said: “There were 25 tourists in Thanchi’s Jinnah Para area, four of whom travelled to Thanchi sadar today [yesterday]. We suspect there are more tourists stranded in Remakri area.”
Local sources said communication through the Sangu were suspended on Friday, while traffic on land routes is also suspended due to the heightened risks of landslides.
Local administration has set up 126 shelters and asked the locals to move in for safety.
In Khagrachhari, the district administration has issued emergency warning, urging locals to move away from areas vulnerable to landslides.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Khagrachhari Deputy Commissioner Md Shahidul Islam said shelters in all nine upazilas are open and ready to accommodate people in case of a disaster.
He further said more than 800 families were living in vulnerable foothills across the district, and the administration is working to evacuate them to the shelters.
In Chittagong, the district administration opened 10 shelters where people living in risky areas can take refuge to avert landslide-related casualties.
Chittagong Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Kamal Hossain said they were asking the people living at locations with risk of landslides to move to safer places as a precaution.
On Sunday, the officials moved 34 families, who are at risk of landslide, from the Modhu Shah hills near the Jalalabad Housing Society in Chittagong city.
On July 3, 50 families from the hills near Akbar Shah area were evicted.
The district administration has so far listed 835 families who are living on the 17 most vulnerable hills.
According to the Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot of UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between July 1 and July 7, 136 incidents of natural disasters were reported in Cox’s Bazar, affecting 18,000 people in the refugee camps.
2 Rohingyas killed, 2,700 displaced in Cox’s Bazar
Five days of heavy rains and winds destroyed more than 3,400 houses in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, killing at least two people and displacing over 2,700, according to an IOM statement issued yesterday.
“We are only half way into the monsoon season and helped over 2,000 people in the past 72 hours. Our teams have been working round the clock," IOM spokesman George McLeod said in the statement.
Preliminary damage estimates have already exceeded those recorded in 2018, he added.
Records from rain gauges between July 3-5 in the Kutupalong mega camp showed 510 mm, while Camp 16 – another major settlement – recorded 530 mm.
IOM preliminary damage data covering the period of July 2-6 includes 1,186 households affected by landslides, 216 households impacted by flooding, 1,840 households affected by wind, 15,534 people affected by flooding or other safety risks, 391 landslides and 51 wind storms.
As of Sunday night, IOM damage reports for the previous 24-hour period indicated 13 more landslides, nine windstorms and two floods affecting 2,200 individuals and 432 households.