Bangla landslides: Toll rises to 134 after heavy rain

Dhaka - 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.

Densely populated Bangladesh is battered by storms, floods and landslides every rainy season.

Officials said at least 98 of the victims died in Rangamati, one of the worst-hit districts, and 28 were killed in Chittagong while another six died in Bandarban.

"The death toll might rise", Mannan told AFP.

He said 37 more deaths have been reported from Bandarban, around 316 km away of capital Dhaka, and Chittagong district, 242 km southeast of Dhaka.

None of these areas has seen such rain in recent years, said Reaz Ahmed, Director General of the Disaster Management Department.

Ahmed said disaster response teams had been deployed to the affected areas to reinforce recovery work.

"We have been unable to reach some of the more remote places due to the rain".

Numerous victims were from poor tribal communities in the remote hill district of Rangamati, close to the Indian border, where mudslides buried hundreds of homes.

Police chief in Chittagong, Rezaul Masud, said the death toll in his district climbed to 27 from 13 earlier.

"We've evacuated some of the affected villagers to schools and other safe places".

Local people said a landslide pushed 15 army men down to around 30 feet, killing four instantly while a military spokesman in Dhaka said an army major and a captain were among four of their dead personnel.

Thousands of troops are stationed in Rangamati, where a tribal insurgency raged for two decades, and which still suffers sporadic violence.

The monsoon rains came two weeks after Cyclone Mora smashed into Bangladesh's south-east, killing at least eight people and damaging tens of thousands of homes.

Officials confirmed 129 deaths but media reports put the toll as high as 137 in almost three days of torrential rains due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal which have triggered a series of landslides since Monday in the three districts. Chittagong alone experienced 222mm of rain during the same period.

The heavy rains could trigger further landslides in the hilly areas, Meghnath Tunchangya, assistant meteorologist of Patenga meteorology office in Chittagong, told The Daily Star citing the weather forecast.

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