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500,000 marooned as flood situation worsens in multiple Bangladesh districts

Houses stranded in flood water in Jmalpur. Photo taken on Tuesday, July 14, 2020
File photo: A man with his bicycle wades through floodwater in Jamalpur on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

Erosion again has also started causing damage to several areas in Sirajganj, Dinajpur and Pabna

Several hundreds of thousands of people have been left marooned in a number of northern districts in the Brahmaputra basin as the water level in major rivers crossed the danger mark in the second phase of the flood, after the first one which lasted about 10 days left the locals and their lives in a battered state.

Officials of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and district administrations said major rivers were flowing above danger marks at 10 points of Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Bogra and Sirajganj at 9am Tuesday.

In Jamalpur, Kurigram and Gaibandha, more than 500,000 people were left marooned until Tuesday morning as fresh areas were flooded, leaving people and domestic animals fell into a sudden crisis of food and fodder.

Locals, whose houses were left inundated, wade through knee-deep floodwater in Kurigram | Dhaka TribuneThe situation deteriorated in these districts following a rise in water levels of major rivers due to an increase in the rate of onrushing water from the upstream inundating fresh areas in the last 24 hours.

Moreover, erosion again also started causing more damage to several areas in Sirajganj, Dinajpur and Pabna.

However, the flood situation marked significant improvement alongside the Teesta in Nilphamari during the same period and deterioration in three upazilas of Rangpur and adjoining Lalmonirhat districts.

In Jamalpur, Jamuna has been flowing 99 centimetres (cm) above the danger mark at Bahadurbad point, confirmed Executive Engineer Md Abu Sayeed of the district's WDB office.

Incessant rain and hill waters upstream of the country triggered the flood that left around 300,000 people in 30 unions and four municipalities marooned.

Floodwater began to recede after the first phase of the flood when it had marooned around 400,000 people in 49 unions and eight municipalities in Jamalpur.

However, the flood situation again intensified in the past few days.

In Kurigram, around 200,000 people were marooned and fresh char and low lying areas in the basin of four main rivers in the district were flooded.

Dharla has been flowing 100cm above the danger mark at bridge point until 6am Tuesday. Similarly, at the same time, Brahmaputra and Teesta had been flowing 85cm and 13cm, respectively, above the danger mark at two different points.

River water flowing above the danger mark inundating large swathe of land during the second phase of flood in Dinajpur | Dhaka TribuneAriful Islam, the executive engineer of Kurigram WDB, told Dhaka Tribune that the Brahmaputra would continue to rise until the next 48 hours but Teesta and Dharla would begin to recede.

According to the district's relief and rehabilitation officer (DRRO), people of 56 unions in Rajarhat, Chilmari, Rowmari, Nageshwari and some other upazilas were marooned.

Chairmen of different unions said locals under their supervision fell in a sudden crisis of food due to the flooding. They were also suffering from a crisis of safe drinking water and lack of proper sanitation opportunities.

The district's Deputy Commissioner Md Rezaul Karim said: "Actions are being taken to distribute rice, drinking water, baby food, dried food and fodder among the locals."

In Gaibandha, Brahmaputra crossed its danger mark on Monday night inundating the river basin areas including char ones.

On the other hand, the Teesta and the Ghagot were also flowing just below their respective danger marks on Tuesday morning, reports BSS quoting Executive Engineer Mokhlasur Rahman of BWDB.

The water levels in the Brahmaputra rose by 17 cm, the Ghagot 11 cm and Karatoa 15 cm during the period.

With the rise of water level in the Brahmaputra river, the river basin areas of Sundarganj, Sadar, Fulchhari and Saghata upazilas were inundated.

Many flood victims took shelter on the flood control embankment with domestic animals including poultry birds and other belongings.

Gaibandha DRRO Mokhlesur Rahman said 87,776 people of 21,974 families were marooned so far in 26 unions of the district's four upazilas.

“The district administration has allocated 100 tons of rice, Tk4 lakh and 1,800 packets of dry foods and those are being distributed among the flood-affected people,” he said.

In Sirajganj, the Jamuna was flowing 39cm and 69cm above the danger mark at the Zila point and Kazipur upazila point, respectively, on Tuesday morning.

Stairs of Sirajganj town protection embankment has been marking the rise in the water level of Jamuna River over the past few days. The level was up by 32cm above the danger mark at Zila point on July 14, 2020 | Dhaka TribuneThe water level rise triggered sporadic erosion in the riverbank in Khudbandi and Singrabari unions of Kazipur upazila and Koizuri union of Shahjadpur upazila, said Engineer AKM Rafiqul Islam of Sirajganj WDB.

In Dinajpur, Sadar, Birol and Kaharol upazilas sustained the most damage due to the erosion of Punarbhaba riverbank while the WDB estimate that locality could be hit by flood soon.

Punarbhaba and Ichhamati were flowing about a centimetre below the danger mark at two different points, and the Atrai River was flowing 38cm above the danger mark.

Assistant Engineer Md Ilias of Dinajpur WDB said the district's low lying areas were flooded and 10 rivers were flowing along the danger mark except for Atrai.

In Pabna, Jamuna was flowing 0.16cm below the danger mark in Mathurapoint while the Padma has been flowing 1.66cm below the danger mark at Hardinge Bridge point in Pakshi, according to Abdul Hamid, executive engineer te district  WDB.

Locals in these riverbank areas were living in fear as erosion has already claimed their farmland and house during the first phase of flood this season.

Residents of these areas demanded effective preventative actions as a number of homes, mosques and educational institutions are currently at risk of being taken by erosion.