Heavy Rains Kill 99 People in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, rescue and relief operations are underway in the port city of Chittagong, where torrential rains have killed nearly 100 people. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi on the havoc caused by two days of heavy storms.

The heavy rains flooded large parts of Chittagong and triggered landslides that crushed homes and killed dozens of people.

The worst damage occurred in a congested shantytown, where a hillside collapsed, burying hundreds of bamboo and straw huts.

Government official Mokhlesur Rahman says army rescuers have pulled out many bodies from the rubble.

"The people who have been killed, they were underground, under the sand [mud]," he said. "We have rescued 90 dead bodies…99."

The rains began Monday, when about 22 centimeters fell in just a few hours. The bad weather continued Tuesday.

The army and civil administration raced to provide relief to victims as the city ground to a virtual halt. Scores of injured people are being treated in hospitals. Many low-lying areas are cut off and roads inundated. Trains and flights were also suspended. Several factories in the industrial belt shut down operations.

But administrator Rahman says he is confident that the situation is slowly being brought under control.

"Normal life is gradually improving," he said. "First of all they need moral support ... the people were sheltered in nearby schools."

Residents in Chittagong, Bangladesh's second biggest city, described the rains as the worst in recent memory. Officials say they were unusually heavy because of the influence of a storm in the Bay of Bengal.

Some experts blamed the landslides on large-scale clearing of land to build homes, which has resulted in extensive felling of trees.

Chittagong is not the only city affected by the rains. In other parts of the country, officials say rains and flash floods have killed nearly 15 people.

Flooding is common in Bangladesh during the annual monsoon season, which begins in June and lasts until September.