At least 23 people have died in floods that swept across northeastern Bangladesh, inundating 6 million inhabitants and thousands of hectares that include local paddy fields and fishing enclosures.
At least 13 districts across the South Asian country have been marooned by the floods, including almost the entire northeastern Sylhet division, amid pouring rains and an onrush of water from nearby hills and upstream India, triggering a humanitarian crisis in flood-hit areas.
The local health department chief in Sylhet said 23 people had died in the deluge. Of these, 14 were in Sylhet, three in Moulvibazar and five in Sunamganj and two more areas, said Himangshu Lal Roy.
Officials fear that casualties may increase.
Floodwaters also damaged about 56,000 hectares of paddy fields in Sylhet, Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told reporters.
Other agricultural products like vegetables, sesame seeds, and nuts were also harmed, Razzaque said, adding that farmers could lose this season's harvests if the flood prolongs.
The floods also washed away 1.4 billion Bangladeshi taka ($15 million) worth of fish in Sylhet, affecting some 32,802 producers, according to the Department of Fisheries.
UNICEF is urgently seeking $2.5 million in funding for the emergency response as it provides life-saving supplies and services to children and families.
Officials say situation slightly improved
The flood situation in some parts Sylhet has slightly improved as rains declined over the last two days, according to locals and official sources.
Electricity services and mobile networks in parts of the border district have also been restored.
"The water level in some parts of the Sylhet city corporation (municipality) has decreased in the last two days. But almost all residential areas are still inundated," Mohammad Jahidul Islam, a resident of the district and university student, told Anadolu Agency.
"We're now working on a priority basis to reach remote people and help them. The army, navy, and especially members of the air force are trying to get the most essential food items to distant areas that are entirely cut off," Sylhet Deputy Commissioner Md. Mojibur Rahman told Anadolu Agency.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited three flood-hit districts by helicopter.
She emphasized the regular dredging of rivers and development of drainage systems in flood-prone areas.
The South Asian nation of 170 million people has several hundred rivers and the government earmarks a regular budget for river dredging. But, critics say a significant part of the budget is misused due to corruption and other irregularities.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.