Residents of many areas in Rangamati are living in fear after several incidents of landslide took place along Rangamati-Khagrachhari and Bandarban link roads amid ongoing monsoon downpour.
Kayching Nuo Marma, senior meteorological research officer at Rangamati meteorological office, said Rangamati has been witnessing heavy rainfalls over the last several days.
On July 6, about 68 millimetres (mm) of rainfall was recorded in the area, while 170 mm on July 7 and 108 mm was recorded on July 8, he said adding, “Rain will continue for two or three days. Heavy rainfall [however] is dissipating.”
While visiting Notun Para, Shimultoli and Rupnagar areas in Rangamati municipality, where many houses were damaged in landslides last year, this correspondent yesterday found a number of families that were still living in their houses ignoring the risk, while only a few others have evacuated to nearby shelters.
The district administration has identified that 600 families living on or alongside 33 hilltops run the risk of falling victims to landslides and 110 such families have already shifted to shelters nearby, said officials at the administration.
Shimultoli resident Fatema Akhter said her family was affected by a landslide last year and this time they took shelter at Television Bhaban. “We couldn’t sleep properly when it started to rain heavily. We didn’t want to lose any life as we did last year.”
AKM Mamunur Rashid, deputy commissioner of Rangamati, said they earmarked 33 hills in Rangamati town as risky.
People have already been made aware of the hazards during heavy rainfall and many families are evacuating, he also said hoping that there will not be any death in the town from landslide this year.
On June 13, 2017, as many as 120 people perished in landslides across Rangamati district where 1,200 houses were completely destroyed and 9,500 houses damaged partially, affecting around 18,000 families.
Road communications between Rangamati and other districts remained suspended for nearly 10 days, resulting in food and fuel shortage in a vast area of the district. The landslides also caused power outage for two days in the area.
Out of the damaged roads, the repair work of Rangamati-Chattogram and Rangamti-Khagrachari link roads -- despite spending Tk 14 crore on the repairs -- still remain incomplete. The roads sustained damage in at least 60 places, with 20 of those being major damage.
Muhammad Abu Musa, sub-assistant engineer of Roads and Highways Department in Rangamati, said they were working relentlessly to keep the roads usable for vehicles.