Rain plays havoc on Ctg people, 10 dead in Landslides

Heavy downpours and landslides battered Chittagong and Cox's Bazar yesterday, killing at least 10 people while wall collapse in the city and electrocution in far-off Banshkhali killed five more.

All domestic and international flight operations to and from Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport were declared suspended at 4:30pm as the runway was inundated.

Also, train services on Dhaka-Chittagong route was cut off as a railway bridge at Bhatiari collapsed around 8:00pm due to the downpour.

While the monsoon shower kept lakhs of people stranded at home throughout the day since early morning, business in the country's commercial capital came to a near halt.

Weather office said in the last 24 hours until 9pm, 462.2 milimetres of rainfall was recorded in Chittagong, submerging almost two-thirds of the port city. Buses and cars were not operating on some roads.

A large chunk of earth falling from the nearby hill buried at least 20 houses at Khulshi in Chittagong, killing one. Wall collapses in Aambagan and Haathazari Upazila left two others dead.

Chittagong Fire Service's Deputy Assistant Director Jasim Uddin confirmed that the landslide happened at 7:30pm on Tuesday at Akbar Shah burying the houses in the neighborhood known as Yasin Colony.

Around12:30pm, the body of 12-year-old 'Urmi' was retrieved. Residents said several others were buried under the mud but rescuers could not be specific until their operation was over.

Three others including a child were rescued around 8:30pm.

Rescue operation began immediately while troops joined police and fire service at around 10pm, Jasim Uddin added. Chittagong City Mayor M Manjur Alam, Divisional Commissioner Sirajul Islam Khan and Deputy Commissioner were overseeing the rescue operation

As many as 127 people were killed in different incidents of landslide at the port city only in a month in June, 2007.

Several landslides were also reported in other parts of the hilly city as downpour continued for hours since Tuesday morning. The district administration has been suggesting people living by the hillside to take shelter in safer places until the weather improves.

One of the reported landslides took place near Sugandha Ekushey Hospital and the other other at Lalkhan Bazar, injuring two.

A child, Abul Hossain, 8, died when a wall collapsed on him at Dakkhin Ambagan at 7:30pm.

According to Fire Service and residents, boundary wall of another house collapsed at OR Nizam road.

PORT AUTHORITIES BLAMED

City dwellers hold the CCC responsible for their recurring sufferings.

“Two years have passed since the Mayor took office. But we do not see any significant initiative by the city authorities to address the water logging problem," said Masud Ahmed of Panchlaish.

Dozens other echoed his sentiment.

Asked, Bijoy Kumar Chowdhury, a councillor of the CCC, said the CCC alone could not solve the problem.

The job must be done in coordination with the Water and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) and the Chittagong Development Authority, added Bijoy, also chairman of CCC's standing committee on water logging.

Mahbub Alam, senior vice-president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also stressed the need for coordination between the CCC, Wasa and CDA to rid the city of the problem.

According to Zarina Hossain, a town planner, unplanned urbanisation is to blame for water stagnation.

Bijoy said the CCC had done a lot of work to address this problem but some major projects remain incomplete due to fund shortages.

“We have submitted a project proposal to dig a canal in the port city from Bahaddarhat to the Karnaphuli River,” he said, adding that the proposal was under consideration of the local government ministry.

The seven-km canal will go through Khawza Road before falling into the Karnaphuli.

Bijoy hoped that Chittagong's water logging problem will be solved to a great extent on completion of the Tk 297-crore project.