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Worst floods in decades kill dozens in Bangladesh

BANGLADESH: Heavy rain caused further havoc in the Bangladesh port city of Chittagong on Tuesday where rescuers have recovered at least 91 bodies with more feared missing following the biggest storm in decades.

Officials and witnesses said the deaths were caused mostly by landslides and the collapse of ramshackle dwellings in the city of nearly 5 million.

The flooding was so extensive that survivors were having difficulty finding dry ground to bury the dead, officials said.

“It looks like we are living in a ghost city,” one rescuer said on Monday night. “Never before in my life have I confronted such a calamity,” said another.

Elsewhere in the country, rain and flash floods killed at least 15 people, disaster management officials said.

Some rivers had swollen beyond danger levels, including the Khowai in northeastern Habiganj where bank erosion made hundreds of families homeless.

Millions living on the banks of other rivers were also threatened and the prospect for relief looked bleak with more rain forecast across the country — particularly in hardest-hit Chittagong and other hilly areas.

Most Chittagong roads were under water on Tuesday while trains and flights to and from the city were suspended for a second day. Port business was also hampered. “The disaster caught us unawares,” said Mokhlesur Rahman, Chittagong’s divisional commissioner.

Meteorological officials said the rain marked the onset of the annual monsoon season — which lasts until mid-September — but was unusually heavy because of the influence of a storm in the Bay of Bengal.

Dhaka, Tuesday, Reuters

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