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Bangladesh: 86 killed in landslides
June 12, 2007 12:28 IST
The death toll in the massive landslides in Bangladesh's south-eastern Chittagong district rose to 86 overnight with officials fearing more bodies could be trapped under tons of sludge.
The series of landslides, which occurred due to torrential rains, described by the met office as the heaviest in the quarter of a century, hit when most of the victims were asleep burying them alive.
The highest 31 bodies were recovered from the worst affected suburban Lebubagan area near Chittagong Cantonment while the rest were dragged out from mud in several other areas at the port city and its outskirts, officials said.
Rescue operation is underway to dig out more bodies at nearly 50 spots, a district administration official said, adding that more than 103 injured people were being treated at different health facilities.
Chittagong, Bangladesh's second major city, witnessed a record rainfall with met office on Tuesday saying that they recorded 425 millimetre rainfall in 24 hours. The downpour gave a recess on Tuesday morning easing the rescue operations by the fire brigade, army troops, police and hundreds of volunteers.
Experts and officials blamed the disaster on indiscriminate hill cutting during the last three decades, exposing the residents to the impending danger.
"Incessant rainfall and abnormal rise of the tide baring the drainage of water in the past two days aggravated the situation causing the slides," Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong Mokhlesur Rahman told media persons.
Authorities in Chittagong on Monday ordered a stringent campaign to enforce the ban and constitution of a task force to find the culprits who cut the hills causing the Tuesday's landslides.