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Rain-triggered landslides kill 53 in Bangladesh

Dhaka: A series of landslides triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 53 people, including two army officers, in northeastern Bangladesh, officials said today amid fears that the death toll could rise as many people remain buried under tonnes of rubble.

The highest 36 deaths were reported from Rangamati hill district where at least two army officers were also killed by the landslides. “So far we can confirm to you at least two of our officers were killed and several other personnel injured as they were on duty,” an army spokesman in Dhaka told PTI.

He said an army detachment was deployed to clear the road linking the port city with Rangamati as it was blocked by an overnight landslide but while they were working a fresh landslide buried them under tonnes of mud. “But so far we can confirm only two deaths,” he said.

Landslides triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 53 people in Rangamati, Bandarban and Chittagong districts, Dhaka Tribune reported. A least 11 people were killed in Rangunia and Chandanaish upazilas of Chittagong. In Bandarban, six people were killed and five others were injured in landslides, police officer Rafiq Ullah was quoted as saying by the daily.

Officials said army troops were called out to join fire service rescuers to launch a salvage campaign as scores were feared to be trapped under tonnes of mud after incessant rainfall caused by a depression triggered the landslide.

The landslides prompted the authorities to order a massive evacuation campaign as they feared rocks from hills could damage vulnerable structures at the foothills and cause more casualties.

According to local media reports, many of the victims belong to the ethnic minority or tribal groups in Rangamati and Bandarban who live in makeshift structures along the hills.

“The rescue campaign is underway. We can get a clearer picture of the casualties later,” a spokesman at the Disaster Management Ministry said, adding that the casualty figures could rise as many remain missing. The officials said many people were asleep when the landslides hit, causing more casualties, especially among children.

PTI