Death toll in Bangladesh’s record-breaking floods soars above 100

More than 100 people have died and millions have been displaced in what is believed to be the worst flooding in Bangladesh’s history.

Authorities on Sunday said seven more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll so far to 102. The data is from 27 out of 64 flood-affected districts between 17 May and 28 June.

The floods have also left more than seven million people in the country displaced, without any shelter and in “desperate” need of aid, according to the Red Cross. Around 94 per cent of the town of Sunamganj and 84 per cent of Sylhet districts in northeastern Bangladesh are entirely submerged.

The death tally is expected to go higher as rescue teams continue to struggle to reach inundated areas where millions of people are still stuck since early in the month of June when torrential rain and upstream water suddenly intensified the flooding.

Most victims died from drowning, snake bites and lightning in the flood-hit areas, according to the latest flood report of the health emergency operation centre and control room.

The sudden onrush of water in Bangladesh, triggered by incessant and early monsoon that arrived in April this year, led to key rivers that flow between the two countries rising.

Bangladesh, a densely populated nation of 160 million people, is low-lying and contains dozens of rivers, making it more likely to experience natural disasters such as floods and cyclones. However, scientists say the occurance of such events and their intensity has become a lot more due to the climate crisis.

The rising water levels since early June has washed away roads and buildings as authorities have been battling to deliver supplies in many northeastern and northern districts.

“People’s houses have been damaged, washed away or completely covered in the flood water. Thousands of people are looking to make their way to flood shelters where they will need a lot of support,” says Shabel Firuz, Islamic Relief’s head of Asia region, who adds that the homes of some his own staff have also been flooded.

The early arrival of flash floods in Bangladesh left farmers in turmoil as the country’s main rice crop was only half-ripe when the rainfall began in April. International organisations are calling it a humanitarian crisis asking for more aid in the region.

“Time is now running out for survivors of the worst floods to hit Bangladesh in 18 years, as food could run out in days. There are also fears of more floods to come which would be catastrophic for those already homeless and stranded,” Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK, said.

The flooding has wreaked havoc in India’s northeastern parts as well, washing away the Bailey bridge, which connects two strategic locations in Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday.

Almost three million people have been impacted by the flooding in the Indian state of Assam, which has witnessed the worst flooding in decades. The death toll in the state stands at 174.

Even though the rivers have begun to show a receding trend, disaster management units working in both countries say millions of people still need help.