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Chittagong Landslides, Bangladesh and Myanmar Flooding OCHA Situation Report No. 1

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Chittagong Landslides, Bangladesh and Myanmar Flooding - June 2007
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
13 June 2007

This situation report is based on information received from WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, the UNDP Resident Coordinator's Offices in Dhaka and Myanmar, and media sources.

I. SITUATION in Bangladesh

1. On 11 June 2007, a series of landslides triggered by torrential rains swept through areas of Chittagong District in Bangladesh. Initial reports suggest that large numbers of people were buried under mud and debris, while others were swept away by the powerful current. A joint UNICEF-WFP assessment reports 8-9 feet high mud in some of the worst-affected areas. Government of Bangladesh figures indicate that 120 people are confirmed dead so far and WHO reports a further 60 injuries. The figures are expected to rise as search and rescue teams continue their work.

2. Three days of rains and water from upstream also swelled the Brahmputra, Jamuna, Teesta and Dharala rivers, creating flash floods and inundating large areas of the country. Low-lying areas of Netrokona, Sunamgonj, Habigonj, Bogra, Kurigram, Chandpur and Feni districts are submerged and several thousand people have been isolated. Houses in the affected areas are damaged and daily activities have been disrupted. The current rainfall is the worst in a quarter of a century.

3. At UNHCR-run refugee camps in Cox's Bazaar, a shed collapsed in one camp and two boys suffered minor injuries due to a falling tree. The road network was temporarily interrupted, but access to the camps has now been restored.

4. The Meteorological Department has issued warnings for seaports at Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Mongla.

II. SITUATION in Myanmar

5. In Myanmar's neighboring Rakhine State, the downpour caused widespread flooding. The UNHCR jetty in Buthidaung has been submerged as knee-deep water flowed over the banks of the Mayu River. There are reports of landslides on the road between Maungdaw and Buthidaung and UN security staff are currently assessing the damage.

III. NATIONAL RESPONSE in Bangladesh

6. The Government of Bangladesh has responded promptly and allocated a cash grant of Tk.2,000,000 (1 USD = 68 Bangladesh Taka) and 200 MTs of rice to affected families.

7. The local Police, Fire Brigade, Army, Local Administration, Red Crescent, Health volunteers and NGOs are searching for survivors. Search and Rescue operations have been hampered by the flooding and continuing heavy rains. There is also lack of equipment for excavation.

8. The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has visited the affected area in Chittagong to assess health sector initiatives and activities. The DGHS Control Room and CS Office in districts have been placed on 24 hour monitoring alert. Nine medical teams and one mobile unit have been assembled to assist victims and address emerging health problems. There are no reports of scarcity of emergency drugs and medical supplies and medicine stockpiles are available.

9. Chittagong City Corporation has opened three emergency camps at Biozid Bostami, Chandga and Tulatali High Schools, where 150, 300 and 400 people, respectively, have taken temporary shelter. However, most returned home as the stagnant water recedes. Chittagong City Corporation has distributed 82 MTs of rice, 50 MTs of molasses, 600 match-boxes and 1,000 candles. Two mobile medical teams are working under the City Corporation.

10. On 12 June 2007, a joint UNICEF-WFP assessment team visited the severely-affected Lebu Bagan areas, where most of the flood-damaged houses were constructed of mud walls and tin roofing. Specialized excavation equipment is limited. A temporary camp has opened at Cantonment Jahangir Line High School ground, where the Army is distributing food aid. The Red Crescent has also distributed bread and biscuits. Rice and molasses was distributed by the Divisional Commissioner. Army and City Corporation medical teams are jointly providing medical treatment.

V. INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE in Bangladesh

11. On 12 June 2007, UNICEF and WFP Country Offices jointly sent four teams to conduct an emergency assessment in the landslide areas. The two UN agencies are closely monitoring and coordinating with the District and City Corporation administrations.

12. The WFP Country Office is monitoring the situation through its sub-offices located on the ground. WHO is providing technical support to the Director General for Health Services. Meetings have taken place with health personnel and District Civil Surgeons. UNICEF is maintaining close contact with Department of Public Health on water and sanitation issues.

13. WHO has provided support to NGOs and UN agencies on health sector management. The WHO Immunization and Vaccine Development Programme is liaising with the district health officials to assess the situation and address immediate health needs.

14. UNDP has mobilized logistical support and provided five vehicles (including fuel and drivers). The vehicles will be used by the Chittagong Divisional Commissioner to reinforce the rescue and relief operation.

15. The UN has received no formal request for international assistance. According to the UNCT the local authorities currently have sufficient Search and Rescue capacity, food and medicines.

16. OCHA has offered assistance to the UNCT through the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Dhaka. The OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific continues to monitor the situation closely in conjunction with the UN offices in Dhaka and Yangon.

This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OSOCC Internet Website http://www.unocha.org/vosocc and on the OCHA Internet Website http://www.reliefweb.int/.

MAP: Bangladesh: Flooding and Landslides - Situation Map

For detailed information please contact:

OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)
Mr. Rajan Gengaje, Regional Disaster Response Adviser
Tel. + 66 2288 2572, Fax: +66 2288 1043, Mob. + 66 81916 1271
e-mail: gengaje@un.org

Desk Officers:
(NY) Ms. Kendra Clegg, Tel. +1-917 367-3514, e-mail: clegg@un.org
(GVA) Mr. Erik Kastlander, Tel. +41-22-917 1587, email:kastlander@un.org

Press contact:
(NY) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Tel. +1-917 367 5126
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel. +41-22-917 2653

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.