Chittagong: Heavy monsoon rains and landslides have killed at least 134 people in southeast Bangladesh, burying many in their homes as they slept, authorities said Tuesday.
Three young children from the same family were among those killed in the disaster, which comes just weeks after a cyclone battered the region and destroyed camps housing thousands of Rohingya refugees.
Police warned the death toll would likely rise as emergency workers reached remote parts of the Chittagong Hills, where telephone and transport links had been cut.
Manzurul Mannan, the government administrator of the worst-hit Rangamati district, said at least 98 people were killed in the hilly region alone.
“The death toll might rise,” Mannan told AFP.
At least 30 people were killed in neighbouring Chittagong and another six in Bandarban, officials told AFP, adding about 15 people were missing, feared buried under chunks of mud.
Many of the victims were from poor tribal communities in the remote hill district of Rangamati, close to the Indian border, where mudslides buried hundreds of homes.
One woman described the ground sliding from beneath their family home in the dead of night, sending them fleeing to a house next door.
“A few other families also took shelter there, but just after dawn a section of hill fell on the house. Six people are still missing,” Khatiza Begum told local news website Bangla Tribune at Rangamati hospital.
District police chief Sayed Tariqul Hasan said most of the landslides happened before dawn Tuesday.
“Some of them were sleeping in their houses on hillsides when the landslides occurred,” he said.
Police and local authorities ordered the evacuation of thousands of people living in slums at the base of hills in the neighbouring district of Chittagong, where 30 people have been confirmed dead.