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Sunday 17 December 2017

Another body found after Bangladesh mudslide as rescuers aid 4,500 homeless

Rescue work after Tuesday's massive landslide in Rangamati district, Bangladesh (AP Photo)
Rescue work after Tuesday's massive landslide in Rangamati district, Bangladesh (AP Photo)

Rescuers have recovered the body of a woman from the sea of mud that collapsed on to a village in south-eastern Bangladesh and are searching for several other people who are still missing after landslides killed at least 141, officials said.

Officials said six or so people were still missing in the worst-hit region of Rangamati.

"We will continue our search and rescue programme today, said Jasim Uddin, a deputy director of the fire department in the worst-hit district. "We are looking for them."

The government, meanwhile, turned its focus to providing food and other aid to some 4,500 people whose homes were swamped by mud and debris unleashed by the landslides on Tuesday.

Families were also receiving cash and materials to help them build new homes.

"Still, we are alert" for news of more residents missing or in need of rescue, said Shah Kamal, secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management.

Mr Kamal said soldiers, firefighters and volunteers were still working to restore access to the remote hilly areas, where roads have collapsed or been blocked by mud. Soldiers erected a portable bridge to reach landslide-stricken communities in Rangamati.

With power cut off in the region since Tuesday, information was slow to trickle out.

Villagers were helping by cutting fallen trees and clearing debris in areas where rescuers have been unable to get heavy machinery.

Officials reported 104 dead and at least 5,000 homes destroyed or damaged in Rangamati district, where mostly tribal villagers live in small communities near a lake surrounded by hills.

Another 28 were killed in the coastal Chittagong district, six died in Bandarban, two in Cox's Bazar and one in Khagrachhari.

The delta nation of Bangladesh is frequently hit by strong storms, flooding and landslides. Experts said this week's tragedy was also the result of uncontrolled denuding and soil harvesting on hills above unplanned settlements.

Many people in hilly regions ignore authorities' calls to avoid constructing homes on slopes.

AP

Press Association

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