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Landslides and flash floods claim 21 lives in Bangladesh

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

At least 21 people have died in devastating flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains that lashed south-eastern hilly districts of Bangladesh, officials said on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of people were marooned on higher ground as flood waters submerged areas around Cox’s Bazar and the hilly district of Bandarban, Xinhua reported.

Police confirmed that 21 bodies were recovered from a river on Sunday.

In 2012, at least 88 people were killed in devastating landslides caused by heavy rains in Bangladesh’s two southeastern districts, Cox’s Bazaar and Bandarban.

Earlier in June 2007, some 123 people were killed in a devastating landslide in Bangladesh’s southeastern Chittagong district.

Bangladesh – one of the world’s most densely populated countries – is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including cyclones, droughts, floods and earthquakes.

India, Bangladesh and China are most at risk from river floods, with an increasing number of people threatened because of climate change and economic growth in low-lying regions, a study said in March.

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UN Agencies and Bangladesh Government Advances to Prevent Further Deforestation

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government have begun distributing liquid petroleum gas stoves in Cox’s Bazar to help prevent further deforestation, which has been accelerating with the huge influx of Rohingya refugees during the past year.

Cox’s Bazar is home to large areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. The arrival of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar has put enormous pressure on these precious resources.

U.N. Migration Agency spokesman, Paul Dillon tells VOA, the refugees have been cutting down the trees and clearing land to build makeshift shelters. He says they and many local villagers also rely almost exclusively on firewood to cook their meals.

“Consequently, the forests in that area are being denuded at the rate of roughly four football fields every single day. We are told by the experts at this rate, by 2019 there will be no further forests in that area,” he said.

Deforestation
Deforestation

Scientists note deforestation has devastating consequences for the environment leading to soil erosion, fewer crops, increased flooding and, most significantly, the loss of habitat for millions of species.

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

“It interrupts migration pathways and regrettably forces these, sort of, artificial confrontations between animals in the wild and communities as they move into areas that have been logged out often-times in search of arable farmland and that type of thing,” he said.

Also Read: First Satellite Launched by Bangladesh

The project aims to distribute liquid petroleum gas stoves and gas cylinders to around 250,000 families over the coming months. U.N. agencies say the stoves will have additional benefits besides helping to prevent deforestation.

For example, they note smoke from firewood burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation causes many health problems, especially among women and children who spend much of their time indoors. (VOA)

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