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Legal Matters

4 army men among over 50 killed in landslides in 3 districts

DHAKA, June 13, 2017 (BSS) - Torrential rains overnight triggered a series of landslides in southeastern Bangladesh hills killing some 50 people including two army officers amid fears the toll could rise as several remained missing under tones of rubbles.

"We could so far confirm 51 deaths . . . the toll could be a bit high with confirmation of one or two more deaths," disaster management and relief affairs ministry secretary M Shah Kamal told BSS this afternoon, referring to the landslide casualties in Chittagong, Rangamati and Bandarban.

The official reported highest 37 deaths in Rangamati, including the demise of four army personnel, two being commissioned officers, eight in Chittagong and six in Badarban.

Unconfirmed sources however, said several more people were killed overnight as they drowned, electrocuted or died in wall collapses.

"The rescue campaign is underway and we can get a clearer picture of the casualties later," Kamal said.

The top bureaucrat of the disaster management ministry said around 4,000 people were shifted to makeshift shelters in Rangamati and Bandarban where they were provided with dry food and hotchpotch.

The government, meanwhile, sanctioned 691 tons of rice and Taka 26.47 lakh for the three districts of Rangamati and Bandarban, of which 288 MT and Tk16.23 lakh were dispatched for Rangamati, 175 MT and Tk 5 lakh for Bandarban and 228 MT and Tk 5.24 lakh for Chittagong.

The military said four army personnel, two being officers, were killed in landslides in Rangamati while searches were underway for a missing one as the mudslide caused by torrential rains claimed dozens of lives in three southeastern districts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Chittagong.

"Two (commissioned) officers - a major and a captain -- and two other personnel of ours were killed while one remained missing," Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Assistant Director Rezaul Karim told BSS.

He said they personnel was virtually buried under tons of mud in a fresh landslide as they were sent to remove huge chunks of earth blocking the Chittagong-Rangamati highway.

"So far we can confirm you at least two of our officers - a major and a captain -- were killed and several other personnel injured as they were on duty," an army spokesman in Dhaka told BSS by phone.

He said an army detachment was deployed to clear the road linking the port city with Rangamati as it was blocked by an overnight landslide but as they were working there a fresh landslide virtually buried them under tones of mud.

Officials said army troops were called out to join fire service rescuers to launch a salvage campaign as scores were feared to be trapped under tones of mud after incessant rainfall caused by a depression triggered the landslide.

They said many of the victims belonged to the ethnic minority or tribal groups in Rangamati and Bandarban as they are used to live in their makeshift abode on or along the hills.

Reports and officials said in many cases the casualties took place as people were asleep to be buried under tons of earths as the downpours soften the hills while the rescuers found most of them to be minor children.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)

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