DHAKA: At least 14 people were killed and several others went missing today as torrential rains triggered landslides near camps housing over one million Rohingya refugees in southeast Bangladesh.
The landslides triggered by heavy rains washed away several homes and shelters in the districts of Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati – both bordering Myanmar from where some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled into the country due to a military crackdown.
Heavy rains have caused severe structural damage to camps. So far, more than 9,000 have been affected and the number is expected to rise as the monsoon rains, which lashed the camps for the last two days, continue.
At least twelve people were killed in landslides in different areas of the hilly district of Rangamati while two people were killed in Cox’s Bazar.
Rangamati Civil Surgeon Shahid Talukder said the victims could not be identified yet and rescue and relief teams were struggling to reach people due to difficult terrain.
Most of the victims were buried under mud when surrounding hills gave way after a deluge.
Officials said that the death toll could increase in Rangamati district, which has been cut off from the rest of the country due to debris on the roads caused by landslides.
A senior official in Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commission, said that around 1,500 shacks have been damaged or destroyed since the weekend due to the rain.
More than 30,000 camp residents are still living in areas considered to be at high risk of deadly flooding and landslide.
On this day a year ago, landslides struck the Rangamati district killing more than 100 people.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority community in Myanmar, where most citizens are Buddhist. The majority of those in Bangladesh began arriving in the wake of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state which began last August.