January 17, 2018
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Authorities continue to look for bodies as rains once again lash Bangladesh

Dhaka, June 16 (efe-epa).- Heavy rains have once again begun to lash the districts of southeastern Bangladesh where at least 151 people have died, while authorities continue to search for bodies and try to persuade thousands to move to safer places to prevent further deaths.

Authorities in the Rangamati district, the worst affected with 108 dead, said they are on high alert to prevent new accidents and have kept 17 shelters open since June 13 when the landslides began.

"At the moment (we) have about 2,000 people living (in) the shelters. Our people are going to different areas to ask people to come to shelter centers if they feel vulnerable," Rangamati District Administration deputy commissioner Manzurul Mannan said.

Muktasree Chakma Sathi, the executive director of the Rangamati-based non-profit Supporting People and Rebuilding Communities, told EFE they are also making door-to-door visits to ask residents to move to safer places.

"It has been raining since yesterday evening and we felt some people are really in a very risky situation," she said.

She added that people in this part of the country have never seen devastation of this magnitude and do not know how to respond.

One of the affected residents who went to the non-profit seeking help was Rekha Chakma, 24, who told EFE that on June 13 she and her husband had left their four-year-old daughter at a neighbor's house while they tried to save household items from the rains.

"All of a sudden everything collapsed and mud engulfed me and my husband to our neck. We somehow managed to pull ourselves out and went to look for our daughter, but the house where we kept her had simply vanished in the mud," said Rekha.

She added that her husband rushed to the fire brigade office, who brought out the bodies of the neighbor and child.

The rains began early this week, but intensified between June 13 and 14, when up to 343 millimeters of rain was recorded in Rangamati.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department spokesperson Abur Rahman said that in the last 24 hours another 53 millimeters have been recorded in the district where the soil is completely saturated with water.

Bangladesh Disaster Management Department director general Reaz Ahmed confirmed the death toll as 151.

Ministry of Disaster Management Secretary Shah Kamal on June 13 described the landslides as the worst in the history of the country, which in 2007 saw the deaths of 127 people as a result of rainfall induced landslides.

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