As of Wednesday, June 14, at least 140 people had been killed in landslides prompted by torrential rain in five of Bangladesh’s southeastern districts. Since Monday, June 12, devastating mudslides have swept away large parts of many villages; at least 103 fatalities have been reported in Rangamati, the most affected district, where at least 5000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. Another 28 people were killed in Chittagong district, six in Bandarban, two in Cox’s Bazar, and one in Khagrachhari. Rescue operations are currently underway, with authorities using speedboats to reach affected areas. The death toll is likely to rise, as many areas remain inaccessible.
In early June, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department warned that heavy rainfall and seasonal winds from the southwestern monsoon may cause flooding in the coming weeks in the north, northeast, and central regions. Potentially affected areas included parts of the Khulna, Barisal, Chittagong, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Dhaka, and Sylhet divisions.
Torrential rains, and subsequent flooding and landslides, hit Bangladesh on a yearly basis during the rainy season that spans from April to October. Throughout July and August 2016, massive flooding affected northern and central districts, more than 1.5 million people affected across 16 central and southern districts, at least 60 fatalities were reported due to flood waters, and hundreds of residents were evacuated.
Flooding poses a threat to public health as it facilitates the spread of mosquito- and water-borne diseases. There is a risk of contracting malaria in rural areas throughout the year in Bangladesh. Dengue fever is endemic and is also transmitted through mosquito bites, including in urban areas. Gastrointestinal water-borne diseases are very common, especially during the rainy season.
Individuals present in areas affected by flooding are advised to follow all instructions as issued by local authorities. Monitor any relevant developments of the situation via local media, the authorities, and reliable weather reporting outlets. Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous – 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult – and that floodwater may contain wastewater or chemical products; all items having come into contact with the water should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
Due to the possible presence of mosquito-borne diseases, individuals are advised to take preventive measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites (use insect repellent, wear non-exposing clothing, sleep in screened-in or air conditioned rooms) and destroy possible mosquito breeding grounds, which include masses of garbage and small pockets of stagnant water (e.g. water that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, vases, flower pots, clogged gutters, air conditioners, and water dishes for pets).
To minimize your risk of contracting water-borne diseases, practice good hygiene, consume only treated or bottled water, and avoid foods that cannot be thoroughly cooked or disinfected.