Bangladesh's northern regions brace for monsoon floods

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — With the monsoon setting in and waters from India rushing downstream, Bangladesh is facing a serious threat of floods that could cause extensive damage to farmlands across the delta nation’s vast northern regions, officials said Sunday.

The country’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Center said water levels in many rivers were continuing to rise, posing threats to flood protection embankments that could burst, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of people in more than 20 districts.

Abdur Rahim, a disaster management official in northern Sirajganj district, said about 50,000 families have already been affected after the Jamuna River swelled.

“If the waters continue to rise, many areas will go underwater,” he said. “The signs are not good.”

In other parts of the north, water levels in some major rivers, including the Teesta and the Dharla, have risen due to heavy rainfall in the last few days, inundating many areas in Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Gaibandha and Kurigram districts, according to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center. The region is impoverished and most people farm for a living.

Arifuzzman Bhuiyan, an engineer with the warning center, said Sunday that waters would continue to inundate low-lying areas over the next week, affecting croplands and homes.

He said officials were monitoring the situation so that the government can take action to try to mitigate the impact.

Heavy rainfall in India’s Meghalaya and Assam states and in nearby parts of Bangladesh have triggered flash floods. Bangladesh and India share 54 transboundary rivers.

Bangladesh, a delta nation of 160 million people, has experienced devastating floods over the years, with hundreds of thousands of people losing their homes and land. The country, which is crisscrossed by 230 rivers, is prone to tropical cyclones and receives monsoon rains between June and October every year, often leading to floods.