Flash floods triggered by incessant rainfall has left at least 20 people dead and thousands of others marooned in nearly a dozen districts across Bangladesh, officials said today.
The unrelenting flow of water from upstream, even though rain has stopped, has flooded as many as 10 districts in northern Bangladesh, and the flooding is spreading to the central region of the country, officials said.
A spokesman of the Disaster Management Ministry in Dhaka confirmed 20 people have died in the floods and most of them are from northwestern region.
The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) forecasts if there are more rains at the end of August, at least 25 districts will be affected by floods.
The water levels will keep rising as India's northeastern states will see "heavy to very heavy" rains, it said.
"We are taking all precautionary measures keeping the forecast in mind," Department of Disaster Management Director General Reaz Ahmed said.
Around 60,000 families in Kurigram and at least 400 families in Nilphamari have been marooned.
Railway officials said train services in several internal routes in the region were suspended in the past two days as water washed away soil and stones underneath the railway tracks.
Onrush of waters in the major Brahmaputra and its tributaries coupled with heavy monsoon rains in the district submerged railway tracks forcing authorities to suspend train services in Dinajpur district.
Leading water expert Professor Ainun Nishat said gushing waters from three sides of the upstream region were heading towards central Bangladesh and feared that particularly the unprotected eastern part of the capital Dhaka could be submerged for a prolonged period.
"The full moon phenomenon is to worsen the situation coinciding with the bursting water level but all we need to do is to protect in particular the flood protection embankments which are in place to evade damage as much as possible,"
TV footages showed people were moving in boats in northern districts as swollen river waters inundated flood plains and submerged infrastructures.
The FFWC officials said the water level in Brahmaputra, having its origin in China and entering northern Bangladesh from India, exceeded the records of past 100 years.
It said continued and simultaneous rise of waters in the three major basins in the northeast, north and northwest region posed the threat of major flooding in lower riparian Bangladesh criss-crossed by 230 rivers, 54 major ones being originated from upstream India.
The Teesta basin water level also surpassed the 98 years record and the rest of the three basins – the Ganges – this year saw the highest level of waters in the past 75 years.
The Water Development Board said the level of water rose at 77 of its 90 observation points.
Bangladesh experienced the worst floods in decades in 1998 when 68 per cent areas of the country went underwater.
The flooding in 2007 was less severe than those of 1988 and 1998, affecting 40 per cent of the country.