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Mudslides kill 80 in Bangladesh

world Updated: Jun 12, 2007 00:08 IST

IANS
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Mudslides caused by overnight heavy downpour have killed at least 80 people in Bangladesh's southeastern Chittagong, official and local sources said on Monday.

Local people were concerned that the casualty figure might climb over 100 as many villagers living in the foothills of inaccessible areas were washed away by the mud-mixed rainwater rushing down the hills.

Chittagong Divisional Commissioner Mokhlesur Rahman, who is monitoring the rescue and relief operation, confirmed the death toll at 70 in the hill-slides. "People are being evacuated to safer places from vulnerable areas," he said.

Army troops joined the local administration in the rescue operation, which "became difficult in the inclement weather", an official said. Most parts of Chittagong commercial city were flooded with knee-deep to waist deep of waters.

Kalurghat radio station in the city suspended its transmission, as there was 6-foot (1.8 meters) water at it. Air communication between Chittagong and other parts of the country has been suspended due to torrential rains.

Loading and unloading in the Chittagong Port began partially at about 9 am (0300 GMT) on Monday after remaining halted from Sunday evening due to the downpour.

A coordination cell has been set up at the Divisional Commissioner's office where army, Bangladesh Rifle, police and local administration were coordinating the rescue and relief operations.

Officials said 1.3 million taka ($18,600) and 200,000 tons of wheat were initially sanctioned for the victims.

Control rooms have been opened in 31 sub-districts of the Chittagong district to monitor the situation.

The inclement weather marked by incessant rains also hit capital Dhaka and elsewhere of Bangladesh, disrupting normal life and businesses.

Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor of Bangladeshi caretaker government Fakhruddin Ahmed and Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed also contacted the Chittagong administration, inquiring about the rescue and relief operations in the area.