After days of monsoon rains caused catastrophic flooding in Bangladesh, dozens of people were killed and millions of homes were destroyed. The disaster has affected a wide swath of the country, forcing mass evacuations – up to 100,000 people in the worst-hit areas – and leaving millions stranded.
Since the monsoon rains began late last week, at least 32 people have died. Around 4 million people were stranded in Bangladesh’s northeastern Sylhet administrative division, accounting for roughly a quarter of the country’s population. Lightning strikes triggered by the storms killed about 20 people, including three children aged 12 to 14.
Flooding in Bangladesh, which a government expert described as potentially the worst since 2004, was exacerbated by runoff from heavy rain across Indian mountains. Flooding in this low-lying country worsened as water cascaded down the hills that surround part of Bangladesh from India’s Meghalaya state, which has received 134% more rainfall than average this month. In addition, nearly 2.5 million acres (more than 1 million hectares) of farmland have been flooded across the country. A pre-monsoon flash flood caused by a rush of water from upstream in India’s northeastern states struck Bangladesh’s northern and northeastern regions last month, destroying crops and damaging homes and roads.
Floods continued to wreak havoc in Bangladesh, with authorities struggling to transport drinking water and dry food to flood shelters across the country’s vast northern and northeastern regions. Water has begun to recede from the northeastern region, according to officials, but it is posing a threat to the country’s central region, which serves as a conduit for flood waters to reach the Bay of Bengal in the south. According to media reports, those affected by flooding in remote areas are having difficulty accessing drinking water and food.
The National Flood Forecasting and Warning Center warned on Sunday that flooding in Sunamganj and Sylhet’s northeastern districts could worsen. According to the warning center, one of the major rivers in northern Bangladesh, the Teesta River, could rise above danger levels and worsen conditions even further.
Bangladesh, a country of 160 million people, is low-lying and vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, which are exacerbated by climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, approximately 17% of people in Bangladesh will need to be relocated over the next decade or so if global warming continues at its current rate.