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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Compiled by SDNP

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Floodwaters eddy down to centre, recede from north

The Daily Star,

Diarrhoea breaks out, death toll now 329; capital reeks of sewage

PictureMucky and stinking waters flow through roads at the heart of commercial hub, Motijheel, as the sewerage system collapsed at the area. Rivers around the capital continued to swell yesterday, swamping fresh areas.

Floodwaters continued to roll down to the centre of Bangladesh, swamping much of the capital and pushing the official death toll to 329 yesterday as river waters started receding from northern and northeastern districts.

PHOTO: STAR

Diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases and starvation loomed large for the flood-hit people in 41 districts, where the flooding turned catastrophic destroying crops on hundreds of acres, overflowing roads, railroads and flood control dams.

Executive Engineer Selim Bhuiyan of the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre told The Daily Star that floodwaters are gradually receding from the north and northeast, piling pressure on the central districts.

The flood situation may improve when the water level in the fast-rising Meghna river in Chandpur comes down, he said, adding the Meghna is flowing 92 cm above the danger mark, overtaking records.

Overnight river navigation to the south became unsafe as most rivers burst their banks. Beacons and other signals needed for safe navigation on river routes went out of order or were washed away.

Boats replaced rickshaws and other vehicles in parts of Dhaka where filthy waters gushing from the collapsed sewerage system merged with floodwaters and inundated more streets and houses, blighting the normal life in the city of over 13 million.

Official news agency BSS reports: The floods hit 51 of Dhaka City Corporation's 90 wards, including Motijheel business hub and Gulshan and Banani forcing 2,52,000 people to take refuge in 206 DCC makeshift shelters.

The flood warning centre reported a further rise of 4 cm in the Buriganga that was flowing 62 cm above the danger level. The Turag that recorded a rise of 11 cm was flowing 128 cm above the danger level.

Reuters said the floods in Bangladesh, eastern India and Nepal have washed away tens of thousands of houses, cut road and rail links, damaged crops and shut hundreds of factories.

The train service on Sylhet-Dhaka and Dhaka-Chittagong routes run the risk of collapse as railroads at many points went under water. The trains in operation are running at least two hours behind schedule.

But Divisional Transportation Officer Belal Uddin of Bangladesh Railway said no more rail links would snap in the coming days, if the situation remains stable.

MEMORY COMES BACK

This year's floods evoke the memories of the 1988 devastating deluge that killed about 3,500 people.

Our Jahangirnagar University correspondent said raging floodwaters are gushing through several points on Dhaka-Ashulia Highway, submerging fresh areas in Ashulia and Savar.

The road link with the capital on Dhaka-Ashulia route runs the risk of collapse as the Turag river continued to swell yesterday. The Bangshi river is swelling 70cm above the danger level at Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Area.

About 70 percent of mills and factories in Savar municipality went 4 to 5 feet under water and most villages near Amin Bazar have remained up to 10 feet under water.

Nasrin, 8, Shahin, 6, Shihab, 11, and two other unidentified schoolboys drowned in floodwaters in the last two days in Savar, raising the death toll to nine.

Saiful, 7, son of Abdur Rahim in Badurula village in Barisal died on Sunday afternoon as he fell from a raft fashioned out of banana trees, spiking the death count in flooding to nine in a week, our Barisal correspondent reports.

Direct road links between Agailjhara and other parts of the country snapped as highways went under floodwater and culverts were damaged.

Direct highway links between five districts in Barisal Division and other parts of the country are under serious threat of collapse as the flood water level reached the highways.

The flood situation in seven upazilas in Bogra remained unchanged, but the water levels in the Jamuna and Bangali rivers have been falling.

Three more people have died in floodwater since Sunday raising the death toll to 26 in Sherpur. The dead were named as Shabuj Hossain, 2, son of Shanwar Hossain, in Machpara village, Siddiqur Rahman, 45, in Charpara village in Sribordi upazila and the 8-year-old daughter of Insan Ali in Munshirchar village in Sadar upazila.

According to the Deputy Commissioner's Office, 800 tonnes of rice sanctioned by the higher authority was distributed among the flood-affected people in 52 unions in Sherpur.

However, some flood victims marooned in low-lying areas in Sadar upazila said they did not receive any relief.

The flood situation in Manikganj showed a little improvement as the Jamuna and Kaliganga fell at Aricha and Tora points. Still, most houses, businesses and government offices remained 2 to 3 feet under water and road links between the district headquarters and five upazilas were cut off.

The Brahmaputra river that swelled 3 cm yesterday was flowing 59 cm above the danger mark, worsening the flood situation in Mymensingh.

The floods that stranded about two million people in the central district of Brahmanbaria remained unchanged and 2,25,000 flood-hit people were crammed into 492 shelters there.

The floods in Kotalipara in Gopalganj worsened, as fresh areas were submerged after a flood control embankment collapsed in part.

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World responds to flood plights

The Daily Star,

UN to appeal to int'l community; Britain provides Tk 110cr; IDB 1.2cr; ADB forms monitoring unit; govt plans to assess damage with top donors

The world has responded to the humanitarian plight of about 30 million flood victims in Bangladesh with the United Nations (UN) set to appeal to the international community for urgent assistance.

The UN has come up with a proposal for a help plea worldwide against the backdrop of the government's decision not to make such an appeal by itself.

The British government yesterday announced to provide Tk 110 crore (10 million pound sterling) in aid for flood-hit people while the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) approved an emergency grant of nearly Tk 1.20 crore ($200,000).

"Bangladesh is experiencing severe monsoon flooding, the worst since the 1998 floods. The UK is concerned about the deteriorating flood situation in Bangladesh and stands ready to assist, in support of the effective systems rapidly mobilised by government, to reduce the impact of the floods on those affected," read the announcement from the British High Commission yesterday.

The resident mission of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) meanwhile has formed a unit to closely monitor the flood situation in consultation with government agencies and key development partners active in Bangladesh and enhance ADB's readiness to react to any urgent disaster rehabilitation needs that may arise. The ADB provided substantial assistance to Bangladesh during previous major floods.

A three-member UN team led by Larry Maramis, acting resident co-ordinator in Bangladesh, yesterday met Food and Disaster Management Minister Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf to know if the government has any objection to an international appeal by the United Nations.

"We have no objection to allow UN to make such an appeal to the international community," Kamal told journalists after the meeting.

He said the government would also welcome if any international organisation wants to conduct relief and rehabilitation work for the flood victims.

But he wanted to see the draft of UN appeal before it is circulated across the globe. The delegation will prepare the draft and submit it to the minister today, sources said.

"It would take at least ten days to finally make such an appeal worldwide by the United Nations because such proposals should have to be endorsed by all UN bodies, " said Dilruba Haider, assistant resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh and a member of the delegation.

The government has stuck to its previous decision not to appeal for international help to cope with floods but planned to form a joint committee with top development partners for assessing the flood damage and seeking sector-wise post-flood rehabilitation loans from multi-lateral donors.

Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman already proposed this to ADB yesterday and will approach the other top donors.

"We will seek the help of multi-lateral donors for the post-flood rehabilitation programme. We will try not to take help from bilateral donors because they talk too much and offer little help," Saifur told the press at the Planning Ministry after his meeting with visiting ADB board of directors. The five-member ADB team, headed by Yusuf Anwar, will stay in Dhaka till July 29 and visit ADB projects.

"We will not seek foreign aid this time for relief. We will try to handle the relief requirements with our own resources," Saifur added.

UNDP representative Dilruba also termed the government's no-appeal stance 'quite respectable' and felt the situation was not yet to be declared as state of emergency.

However, the British assistance will be channelled through the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The WFP will coordinate the funds for food assistance and the UNDP for non-food assistance.

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PM monitors flood round the clock

The Daily Star,

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has started round-the-clock monitoring of overall flood situation through a monitoring cell opened at her office for properly guiding rescue and relief operations across the country.

"The government is conducting relief operation and other necessary tasks in the flood-affected areas without any negligence and coming up with all-out measures responding to the need to overcome any situation in the affected areas," the prime minister said.

She assured that the government would do whatever necessary for the flood victims and was capable of controlling flood situation by all possible means.

The prime minister will visit the flood-affected areas of Sunamganj and Habiganj, two northeastern frontier districts, today. On Saturday, she visited flood-hit areas of Sirajganj and Bogra.

Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Kamal Siddiqui is keeping contact with all the deputy commissioners (DCs) over telephone regarding the flood exigencies.

The principal secretary, on behalf of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, is conveying instructions, guidelines and advice to the district administrations to deal with the flood situation with sincerity.

The deputy commissioners have been asked to carry on the flood monitoring and relief operation as well as adopt future action plan to tackle post-flood situation.

Instructions have been given to the district administrations to be careful so that no irregularities occur in relief operation.

The DCs have been asked to contact the prime minister's principal secretary directly anytime under any emergency, for any decision and step.

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NGOs seek cheap food supply, logistics for relief operation

The Daily Star,

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) yesterday sought food supply at 'reasonable prices' and logistic support from the government for conducting relief operation in remote areas.

At a meeting with the government, the NGOs also asked for water purification tablets, oral saline and some other essential items for distribution among the flood victims.

The government advised the NGOs to go to outlying areas with relief materials instead of conducting city and town-based relief operation.

State Minister for NGO Affairs Lutfar Rahman Khan Azad chaired the meeting while Minister for Food and Disaster Management Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf attended it as chief guest. Representatives of 38 NGOs attended the meeting held at the Press Information Department.

The NGOs also said as the flood situation was worsening day by day, the government should go for an international appeal for help. The government side assured them of considering the matter.

The NGO representatives said lack of transport facilities hinders their relief activities in remote areas. They urged the government to provide speedboats, other modes of transport and also helicopters to carry relief goods and godown facilities to keep the goods.

They also sought flour at a cheaper price from government stock for making and distributing bread among the flood-hit people.

The state minister urged them to conduct relief activities in a coordinated manner.

Kamal Ibne Yusuf said the government alone cannot tackle such a massive disaster in the country. He advised the NGOs to communicate with their foreign donors for providing assistance to the flood victims.

The minister lauded the role the NGOs had played in times of calamities.

Later, he told journalists the government was ready to help the NGOs in their relief operation.

The minister also said, if needed, helicopter and speedboats would be provided to them. He asked the NGOs to be in touch with district and upazila level government officials for coordinated relief activities.

The meeting was told the government had already distributed around 30,000 tonnes of rice, about Tk 3 crore and 4,000 bundles of tin sheets among the flood affected people in 50 districts.

On food supply at reasonable price, the minister said the government had already taken initiative to float international tender for additional food procurement.

Director General of NGO Affairs Bureau Mizanur Rahman was present at the meeting.

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Flood forecast for tomorrow

The Daily Star


Picture

source: water development board

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Death toll rises to 329: train service on 8 branch
lines suspended: road links with Dhaka snapped
Flood situation in city worsens

The Bangladesh Observer, Staff Correspondent

Flood situation in the capital worsened as 13 points out of 86 monitoring points including Mirpur point of the Turag were flowing far above the danger mark.

A Flood Warning Center (FWC) bulletin indicates that alongwith other districts of the central part of the country, flood situation in Dhaka city will deteriorate further in next one or two days. Amidst this situation train service on eight branch lines remained suspended with Dhaka. Despite the aggravated situation, train movement on Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet route continues.

Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) informs that at least 1.5 lakh marooned people of 56 wards in the city have already taken shelter at 148 flood shelter centers. According to major public hospitals and private hospitals, increased number of patients were reporting with waterborne diseases like diarrhoea in absence of pure drinking water in flood-hit areas.

FWC said that Buriganga is flowing 62 cm above the danger level on Monday. BSS adds:– Despite recession of major rivers at the upstream areas in the west, north and northeastern regions rolling waters continued to concentrate in central Bangladesh including Dhaka while the deluge pushed the official death toll to 329.

UNB adds: Dhaka-Sylhet road communication was suspended on Monday as water submerged it at places and thousands of flood victims took shelter on the highway.

Roads & Highway officials said the road was submerged at places. Moreover, thousands of people rendered homeless by the flood have taken shelter on the highway making traffic movement risky. Flood situation took a serious turn in Madaripur, Chandpur, Rajbari and Munshiganj districts, according to UNB district correspondents. 

Madaripur-Kalkini road communication has been suspended. As the water level of river Sitalakhya rose further today by 2cm the DND and NND projects are under threat of inundation. Asked by the administration the army will move in tonight or Tuesday morning to protect the two vital embankments. Dhaka-Brahmanbaria Titas train service was suspended on Monday but movement of other trains including local services continued.

The flood situation in the country’s central region, including capital Dhaka, deteriorated further as waters from upstream continued to roll down.  Fresh areas of Rajabazar and Dilkhusha in Dhaka city went under nasty water. Mostly bursting sewerage giving stinking smell inundated the city areas.

WASA pumps in many areas of the city have gone under water causing serious health hazards. The number of patients affected in water-borne diseases increased in city hospitals. Dhaka City Corporation Flood Control room said 52 wards were affected by flood. About 2.05 lakh people took shelter in 206 relief camps.

Officials forecast the situation in the capital is likely to worsen with more rains in next 48 hours and rise in water level. Seven minor children died of electrocution, drowning and snakebite in Comilla district on Sunday.

Flood Forecasting & Warning Centre in its latest bulleting today said the situation is likely to deteriorate in Mymensingh, Tangail, Dhaka, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narayanganj and Chandpur districts.

The situation in Madaripur, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Narshingdi, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria may remain unchanged while it will improve in Sylhet, Sunamcanj, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Netrakona Kurigram, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogra, Naogaon, Pabna, Jamalpur, Sirajganj and Comilla.

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Flood damages crops worth Tk 2290cr: Knit
garments in N'ganj to lose Tk 1000 crore
Low income group  worst hit in dists

The Bangladesh Observer, Staff Correspondent

Though the number of flood shelter centre has increased in last two days in flood-hit districts of the country, most of the people taking shelter in those centers are not getting adequate relief materials. In addition scarcity of safe water and lack of sanitary conditions in flood shelter centers have posed a serious threat to flood victims.

Government’s allocated relief items have yet reached many flood shelter centers. Flood situation has further worsened in central part of the country as water level has witnessed a rise in all rivers of this region. The situation has slightly improved in Sylhet division.

Water level of Meghna, Shitalakhya, Turag, Bonshi witnessed further rise on Monday submerging fresh areas in the districts. Sixteen were drowned, one in Munshiganj and 15 in Manikganj on Monday in onrushing flood water.

The low income group people are worst hit in Munshiganj, Manikganj, Narsinghdi, Narayanganj, Brahmanbaria districts due to flood.

In Narayanganj the Knit garments sector is likely to lose Taka 1000 crore due to flood. BSS adds: Devastating flood has so far damaged crops worth about Taka 2,290 crore on 6.59 lakh hectors of land and affected directly more than 37 lakh farmer’s families across the country.

This was disclosed at a meeting on post-flood agriculture rehabilitation held in the conference room of the ministry of agriculture at Secretariat here today. Agriculture minister MK Anwar presided over the meeting, an official handout said.

State Minister for Agriculture Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, agriculture secretary ASM Abdul Halim and chief executives of different bodies under the ministry were present at the meeting.

The meeting was told that 37 lakh farmer’s families, 19 lakh of them belonging to small and marginal groups, have experienced damage of their crops due to the flood. There are a total of 1.17 crore farmer’s families in the country.

The meeting decided that the government would provide seeds, fertilizer and other necessary inputs free of cost for every flood-affected farmer for farming on one Bigha of land.

Besides, the government would provide paddy saplings, fertilizer and other materials for the owners of the land affected by long-term flood. More that 12 lakh small and marginal farmers are being brought under the rehabilitation programme to help them recoup their losses due to the flood.

Under the government initiative, the arrangement of making seedbed on 2,200 acres of land is in progress. The district and upzila committees comprising field level workers will distribute the seeds, paddy saplings, fertilizer and others materials to the flood-affected farmers across the country.

Addressing the meeting, the agriculture minister said the government would do everything needed for the rehabilitation of the flood-hit farmer in the country.

He said the government’s rehabilitation programme would begin as soon as the floodwater recedes.

Describing the farmers in the country as striving and enterprising, he said they had faced similar floods in the past successfully.

He asked the field level agriculture workers and officials of the agriculture department headquarters to ensure regular visit to the field and said that “the nation has given you the responsibility of recovering the losses in the natural disaster and you have to do whatever is necessary.”

Narayanganj

Our Correspondent from Narayanganj says: Flood situation in Narayanganj town and its adjoining areas has deteriorated even though water level of Shitalakhya, remaining static but water level of Meghna rose up by 4cm in last twenty four hours. The Shitalakhya now flowing 120cm above danger level while Meghna flowing 146cm above red mark.

About ninety per cent people of the whole district remained marooned as most of the roads including the main road in the town went under knee to waist-deep water. Boats are now plying on BB road of the town to ferry passengers. The central but stand of the town now turned into Kheya ghat due to flood.

According to official sources–183 flood shelters have so far been set up in the district and about 3200 families have already been taken shelter in all 83 flood shelters under Narayanganj Municipality. The people of Narayanganj now facing acute scarcity of pure drinking water.

The Garments sector of Narayanganj badly affected due to the flood.  As a result, thousands of workers became jobless and the economic activities of Narayanganj became stand still. Leaders of  Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) informed this correspondent that the knit garments sector of Narayanganj would loss Taka 1000 crore due to the flood.

Manikganj

Our Correspondent from Manikganj says: The overall flood situation in Manikganj district have unchanged today (Monday).

District Flood Information Centre (FIC), Manikganj said in a bulletin on Monday that the water level in Jamuna have slightly recede but flowing 112 centimtres above the danger level today.

The FIC official said, nine lakh 23 thousand 228 people have fallen victims to the devastating flood.

The number of flood shelters jumped from six to 62 to cope with the rush of displaced people here. More than six thousand flood-hit people have already taken shelter in those flood relief centres, PIC officials said.

FIC officials said, at least 15 people were reported killed during flood. More than 500 people have been attacked with diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases in the district and seriously 25 of them were admitted to the hospitals during the last 24 hours.

Government food preservation in the nine godowns in the district went under flood water and damaged some food items.

FIC officials said, crops on 1,65,864 acres have been totally damaged, fish farms on 955 acres affected incurring a loss of Taka eight crore and 5982 dwelling houses completely damaged in the district.

 Munshiganj

Our Correspondent from Munshiganj says: The flood situation in the six upazilas of the district remained unchanged as the water level here stayed static with a 2cm rise in the river Dhaleswari and a 5cm fall in the Padma on Monday. The river Padma and the Dhaleswari were still flowing 120cm and 155cm above their danger marks respectively, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, 20 more flood shelters were set up in different areas of the district today raising the total number of flood relief centres from 142 to 162. According to officials sources, 50,739 displaced people have been accommodates in these shelters. Besides, many uprooted families have been shifted. Scarcity of safe water and also lack of sanitary conditions have posed a serious threat to health leaving ample chances of causing water-borne diseases in the flood-hit areas, it is apprehended.

The prices of food items and vegetables have already been sources in the hats and bazars of the district  The low-income groups of people have been worst hit by the upward swing in the prices of daily necessities of life. 

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Tk 110 cr UK funds for flood victims

The Bangladesh Observer,

The government of United Kingdom (UK), through its Department for International Development (DFID) is providing 10 million pound sterling equivalent to Taka 110 crore for the flood affected people in Bangladesh, says BSS.

The funds available to organisations involved in relief work, will be channeled through the world Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said a press release in Dhaka on Monday.

WFP will co-ordinate funds for food assistance and UNDP for non-food assistance. The focus on initial response will be on emergency assistance for food, shelter, medicine, clean water and other essential supplies.

Bangladesh is experiencing severe monsoon flooding, the worst since the 1998 floods. The UK is concerned about the deteriorating flood situation in Bangladesh and stands ready to assist, in support of the effective systems rapidly mobilised by government, to reduce the impact of the floods on those affected, the release added.

On behalf of DFID, WFP and UNDP will process proposals received from organisations with a strong track record of effective disaster-relief management in Bangladesh. This exercise will be carried out within the planning framework established by the Disaster Emergency Response (DER) group.

The press release said, the UK is well aware that when the waters recede there will be a great need for recovery assistance to enable those affected by the flood to restore their livelihoods. The UK stands ready to provide further support for post flood recovery. Since 1996 DFID has provided over 500 million pounds in development assistance to Bangladesh.

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