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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Compiled by SDNP

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Diseases spread fast as millions wait for relief
Floodwaters recede further; major rivers still flow above danger marks;

city continues to reel under filthy water

Children share a plate of khichuri one of them got in relief at a flood shelter in Kamalapur Stadium yesterday. Monsoon flooding has swamped low-lying areas in Dhaka and most parts of Bangladesh over the weeks.

Rivers continued to fall in a sign of improvement in the flood situation, but the death count in monsoon flooding mounted as diarrhoea and skin diseases rampaged through new areas, including Dhaka.

As many as 7,000 people were taken ill with diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases that also killed at least three in the last 24 hours, according to the health directorate.

PHOTO: STAR

The disaster management ministry recorded that 16 more people died in flood-related incidents, bringing the death toll to 489 in three weeks, while unconfirmed reports put the figure at 500, official news agency BSS said.

Residents in Hazaribagh complained of skin diseases blamed on toxic effluent from tanneries, which mixed with stagnated floodwaters.

Water levels in five rivers around the capital went an average of 7 cm down, triggering slight recession of floodwaters from the south and southwestern fringes, but the plight of people on the waterlogged eastern fringe continues.

The Buriganga river still flows 55 cm above the danger mark, Balu 186 cm, Lakkhya 106 cm, Turag 125 cm and Tongi Khal 99 cm, the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre said.

The army and local volunteers sandbagged 100 points of Dhaka-Narayanganj-Demra (DND) embankment where water gushed through.

About half a million people crammed into flood shelters or were living on rooftops and many more clung to their inundated houses. Traffic tended to keep off Gulshan-1-Tejgaon and Gulshan-1-Mohakhali roads, as filthy water logs two points on both roads.

The Water Development Board, Water and Sewerage Authority and locals are pumping floodwaters and sewage out of many areas by 104 pumps -- an effort that contributed a little to easing the pressure of waterlogging.

Millions of people are without adequate food or clean water, as the floods -- the most devastating since Bangladesh's worst floods of 1998 -- have submerged two-thirds of the country.

Talking to The Daily Star, flood victims who took refuge in flood shelters in 55 wards of the capital asked for more relief and said they were not getting enough.

Non-governmental and sociocultural organisations distributing relief in the capital called on the government to provide more relief.

BSS said at least 1,026 patients contracted diarrhoea in Dhaka and 515 of them were admitted to the ICDDR,B (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases and Research, Bangladesh) alone yesterday.

Swirling waters have also caused billions of dollars of damage to bridges, homes, roads, rail lines, communication links and businesses, Reuters said.

The flood situation in Dhaka, Munshiganj, Narayanganj and Chandpur will improve, the flood forecasting centre said.

The Brahmaputra-Jamuna and the Ganges-Padma continued to fall further and most rivers in the Meghna and the southeastern hill basins were also falling.

The floods in Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, Netrokona, Pabna, Mymensingh, Sirajganj, Manikganj, Tangail, Madaripur, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Narsingdi, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria are likely to improve further, a flood bulletin said.

SCARRED NORTHEAST

Diarrhoea has been spreading with water recession from different upazilas in Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj and Moulvibazar. The situation turned serious in remote areas where most tubewells went under water.

The scarcity of drinking water hit most upazilas. All hospitals in the region saw a rush of diarrhoea patients.

The floods in Muladi, Babuganj and Banaripara upazilas in Barisal and Kotalipara in Gopalganj deteriorated in the last 24 hours.

Seventy-year-old Moslem Bhuiyan starved to death in flood-ravaged Batamara in Muladi upazila early Thursday, raising the death toll to 15 in Barisal.

AFP adds: Food and Disaster Management Minister Kamal Ibne Yusuf said a UN team was to arrive in Dhaka yesterday to assess the damage from the floods that have submerged wide tracts of farmland, villages and cities.

The UN said earlier it would launch an appeal over the next few weeks to provide aid for post-flood rehabilitation.

Experts have said receding floodwater flowing downstream from northern Bangladesh will not be able to drain into the Bay of Bengal because of high tides in the bay until the full moon on Monday.

If there is more rain before the latest floodwaters subside, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said, the low-lying nation through which over 50 rivers flow could face a "major humanitarian crisis".

Forecasters said a low-pressure area that threatened to cause heavy rain and more flooding was now moving away from Bangladesh. But Akram Hossain, director of the Meteorological Department, said more heavy rain was forecast for mid-August.

(AFP, Reuters and BSS contributed to this report)

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Khaleda, Thaksin Hold Talks
Bodies on expressway, link road agreed
Thailand offers 1,000 MT rice for flood victims



Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, right, poses with his Bangladesh counterpart Khaleda Zia on the sidelines of the 1st BIMST-EC Summit in Bangkok yesterday.

Bangladesh and Thailand yesterday agreed to set up a joint taskforce to start soon the work on the proposed Dhaka elevated expressway.

The task force will submit a detailed report on construction of the expressway to authorities concerned of both the countries.

The agreement was reached during a bilateral meeting between Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on the sidelines of the BIMST-EC summit that began in the Thai capital yesterday morning.

The two prime ministers also agreed to set up a technical expert committee to accelerate the process of constructing a road linking Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.

PHOTO: AFP

Thaksin inquired about the latest flood situation in Bangladesh and offered 1,000 metric tons of rice for the flood affected people.

He said his country would purchase 10 lakh jute bags from Bangladesh for distribution of rice among the flood-ravaged people.

Thailand also offered to supply chickens on credit as part of an aid package, according to AFP.

The meeting, held in a cordial atmosphere at Government House, the office of the Thai prime minister, lasted for more than half an hour.

Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Kamal Siddiqui, Foreign Secretary Shamsher M Chowdhury and Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand Shahed Akhter were present at the talks from Bangladesh side.

On the Thai side, Deputy Prime Minister Suwauat Liptapallop, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sattarrathai, Commerce Minister Watana Muangsook and Thai ambassador to Bangladesh were present.

During the talks, Khaleda suggested more interaction between the businessmen of the two friendly countries to boost trade and investment. She called for more Thai investment, particularly in agro-based industries.

Thaksin said his country would like to set up a hospital in Bangladesh. He mentioned that his country offered GSP facility to 239 items to be imported from Bangladesh.

On the regional issue, the Thai prime minister assured Khaleda of his country's support for Bangladesh to get membership of Asean Regional Forum.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia along with other BIMST-EC leaders called on Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Palace in the afternoon. She also attended an official dinner hosted by the Thai prime minister in honour of the BIMST-EC leaders at the Government House.

Khaleda will deliver her speech at the BIMST-ECsummit this morning. She will also have bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

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Relief, rehabilitation  urgent everywhere

Flood improving, diseases breaking out for lack of food, medicine

 

From Our Correspondent

COMILLA, July 30: The overall flood situation in the district de­teriorated further due to increas­ing water level of Meghna and Titas and more low laying areas are inundated. On Monday, fresh wa­ter inundated six unions under Laksam upazila of the district, re­sulting the flood-affected upazilas now standing at nine out of 13. The other flood-affected upazilas are Daudkandi, Homna, Meghna, Muradnagar, Chandina, Dabidwar, Burichong and Brahmanpara.

The rail route of Dhaka-Chittagong was threatened as Rajapur point under Brahmanpara upazila and Rasulpur point under Comilla Sadar upazila went under water where the train has been moving with heavy risk. To run the rail communication between Dhaka and Chittagong route the concerned authority is depending on Cement Concerete (CC).

So far nine persons were drawn in the district till Tuesday of whom three in Burichong upazila, three in Brahmanpara upazila, two in Muradnagar upazila and one in Homna upazila. Meanwhile, cries of the people of the worst flood-hit Comilla district for relief are now rending the sky. It is alleged that the relief including cash and kind either sanctioned or dis­tributed under government man­agement till Wednesday could hardly meet the demand of meals of one day of the all flood-hit people in the district.

About 11 lakh people of 2,20,000 families under 91 Unions of nine upazilas out of 13 in the district have been affected while lakhs of people throughout the district are still now remained ma­rooned.

The flood situation at Daudkandi, Homna, Burichong and Muradnagar upazilas of the district on Wednesday remained unchanged, increasing the suffer­ings of the flood-hit people who are remained marooned from knee to waist deep water during the last seven to eight days.

Approximately two lakh ma­rooned people throughout the district during the last seven to eight days are facing immense suf­ferings due to lack of food, shelter fit for living, drinking water, com­munication gap and out break of water-born diseases while some 11 lakh people in the meantime have been affected.

 Madaripur

Our Madaripur Correspondent writes: The flood situation in the district improved slightly on Tuesday following the water level tall of the river Arial Khan but the river was flowing 71 cm above the danger mark according to the dis­trict flood information centre of­fice.

According to official sources 6,01296 people belonging to 1,26193 families have been af­fected while 90 per cent rural roads in four upazilas of the dis­trict went under flood water.

The marooned people in these inaccessible villages have been passing their days in utter agony. The flood hit people are moving to safer places.

The road link between Kalkini and Madaripur and Madaripur-Chandpur were cut off with the rise of waters. A total of 15 jute godowns in Charmaguria Bandar under Madaripur Pourashava went under flood water.

Standing crops including Aush, Aman and jute on about 4710 hectares of land were totally and 35977 hectares were partially dam­aged while 350 houses fully and 30200 houses were partially dam­aged.

Madaripur district town is the hardest hit area in the district as the whole town went four feet under flood water.

A total of 37 flood shelter cen­tres were opened in four upazilas of the district. About 10,000 af­fected people took shelter in the centres. Diarrhoea and viral fever have broken out in an epidemic from in different areas.

Prices of essentials like flour, vegetables, fish, milk, rice, oil, eggs, molasses and onion have gone up in the flood hit areas.

A total of 67 medical teams in four upazilas of the district have been working, 18 persons died in four upazilas of the district in the last few days.

 Rajbari

Our Rajbari Correspondent re­ports: The flood situation in three upazilas of the district has im­proved but water remained stag­nant in the low-lying areas.

The Padma was flowing 111 centimetres above danger mark at Goalondo point. Nine children in four upazila of the district died in flood related incidents. 6 were drowned and 3 died from pneumonia disease till today.  Rising the districts flood-related death toll to 90.

Of the affected upazilas, the worst affected one is Goalondo, 48 thousand family and 2 lakh people were affected in Rajbari district, 18,075 houses damaged. Many livestock  perished while 135 kilometres road and 77 primary school were damaged in three up­azilas. Scarcity of fire wood and drinking water in flood-hit areas acute. Diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases broke out at some village of the district.

 Kurigram

A Correspondent adds: The flood situation has improved in many parts of the district. The strong current of the river Brahmaputra and river erosion took a serious turn at Rajibpur upazila in this year.

About  150 houses including a Madrasha of Madanerchar were washed away, two carpeted roads, three culverts, 200 houses, 1 km road including Aziz Master's Ghat eroded.

One government primary school at Pacchim Rajibpur was being threatened which may be washed away within some days.

One Ratan Ali (45) a govt. em­ployee told the Bangladesh ob­server that one UP health centre and one registered primary school at Velamari village were eroded by the gulping river Brahmaputra. One  road near a sluice gate of kartimari bazar of Roumari DC road was threatened. Government and non-govt. like RDRS have been distributes relief among flood-hit and river-hit people here.

About 150 houses under Austomirchar union of Chilmari upazila including some parts of Ramna Ghat were eroded. Both the flood and river hit people are leading their lives in sub-human condition. On the otherhand, the devastat­ing river erosion is going on at Rajipur upazila rapidly.

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