Lightning, rain-triggered flooding and landslides have
killed at least 16 people in Bangladesh as parts of the South Asian
country were deluged by heavy monsoon rain, officials said on
Thirteen were killed in lightning strikes while the rest died in flooding and landslides, prompting the authorities to evacuate hundreds of residents to emergency shelters in flood-hit areas of the country.
Asif Anam, a local government official in the western Paban district, said four people, including three members of a family, immediately died after being hit by lighting as they processed raw jute at a marshland during the inclement weather.
The electrical storm left a fisherman and three farmers dead in north-eastern Mymensingh district as they were out in the open during the disturbance, said police officer Firoj Talukder. Officer Munshi Asaduzzaman said three day-labourers died in a lightning strike as they were unloading a banana-laden truck in western Chuadanga district. In May 2015, at least 40 people were killed during a thunderstorm that swept parts of Bangladesh.
Meteorologists say people's lack of knowledge about keeping safe in electrical storms cause the high number of fatalities due to lightning.
Two people were killed in the south-eastern Rangamati district after their homes were buried under chunks of mud that fell from an adjacent hill due to heavy rain in the last couple of days, disaster management official Balinur Begum told dpa by phone.
The body of one man was retrieved from a river after two people went missing in a flash flood in the Bandarban hills, while two others were killed during thunderbolts in north-eastern Sunamganj district, she said.
Three others were rescued in the port city of Chattogram after they became trapped inside a home that was also buried because of the rain-triggered mudslide. Flooding of vast areas in the south-eastern hill districts of Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban have forced many residents to rush to emergency shelters.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that her government had taken every preparation to tackle the flooding. More than 1,300 people were evacuated in Rangamati district alone, Begum said, adding that rescuers have been working hard to bring the flood-affected people to 131 state-run shelters from the remote hills in Bandarban.
Parts of Bangladesh have been experiencing heavy rain because of the active monsoon since Monday, when two more people were killed in landslides in Rangamati. Bangladesh's national weather service has forecast heavy rainfall in the next 24 hours, with an end in sight for Sunday morning. It warned of more landslides in hilly areas and urged residents to move to safety.
Deaths from mudslides during the monsoon are common in Bangladesh. More than 150 people were killed in a series of rain-triggered landslides in the southern hilly districts of Chittagong, Rangamati and Bandarban in June 2017.
Meanwhile, several thousand residents in northern parts of the country were marooned as major rivers flowed at dangerously high levels, due to heavy rainfall upstream in the Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal. Bangladesh's Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre warned that the water level may continue to rise further.
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