Four people, including three members of a family, were killed in separate landslide and wall collapse triggered by incessant rains under influence of Cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ Chattogram early Sunday.
The deceased were identified as Nurjahan Begum, 45, wife of Nur Mohammad, her mother Bibi Jahura, 70, her three-year-old daughter Faizunnesa alias Nur Aysha, and Nurul Alam Nantu, 30.
Nur Mohammad hails from Fatikchhari upazila while his mother-in-law hailed from Laximpur district.
Under the influence of ‘Titli,’ torrential rains started on Saturday night that continued till early Sunday, sources said.
A huge chunk of hill fell on a tin-roof dwelling house that was built illegally on a slope of a hill owned by Bangladesh Railway (BR) in Purbo Firoz Shah Colony area around 2:15am.
On information, four firefighting units rushed to the spot and carried out rescue operation for around five hours, said deputy assistant director Jasim Uddin of Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) department, Chattogram.
He said the bodies of Nurjahan and her daughter Faizunnessa were recovered from beneath the debris around 7:00am while the body of Jahura recovered around 8:00am.
Nur Mohammad told reporters that he along with his wife and five offspring had been living at the house. His mother-in-law came there on Friday.
“Fearing danger, I went to a nearby shelter to keep away my four offspring and valuables just before the landslide while the victims were asleep at the house,” said a grief-stricken Nur.
He said that returning from the shelter, he found a huge chunk of the hill fell on his house burying his wife, mother-in-law and daughter Aysha.
Later, firemen recovered the bodies from beneath the debri, informed Nur, a van-puller by profession.
Meanwhile, Nurul Alam was killed in wall collapse as a tree fell on his house following a hill-slide in Rahman Nagar area under Panchlaish police station around 1:30am.
On information, two firefighting units rushed to the spot and rescued him in a critical condition.
He was rushed to Chattogram Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) where on-duty doctors declared him dead around 2:40am.
Chattogram district Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC-Revenue) Mohammad Delwar Hossain informed that they had carried out miking for the last six days asking people living on the risky hilly slopes and at the bottom to go to safer places and shelters opened by the administration.
Members of the affected family also went to the shelter and returned when the rain stopped on Friday afternoon, said Delwar, also the member-secretary of the hill management committee.
The ADC said that an amount of Tk 20,000 was given for burial of each of the deceased from the administration.
In absence of permanent measures, thousands of low-income people are living on the vulnerable hill slopes risking their lives in the port city and its suburbs.
These poor people, mostly tenants of the houses which were built illegally on government hilly lands, revealed that they live at the risky spots for ‘cheaper’ accommodation.
It is worth mentioning that torrential rains triggered a series of massive landslides in the hilly districts, burying many dwellings when the dwellers were asleep on June 13, last year.
A total of 164 people were killed in landslides in five districts, including Chattogram, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar.
The high-powered hill management committee formed after the devastating landslides in 2007 identified some 28 hills as ‘risky’ and 864 families living at hill slopes as ‘most vulnerable’.
The committee, on different occasions, made a number of recommendations such as rehabilitation of vulnerable families in safer places, providing them with financial assistance, disconnecting illegal power, gas and water supply lines, filing of criminal cases against illegal occupants and protecting hills through eviction and afforestation.
With most of the recommendations remained unimplemented, the administration conducts eviction drives during heavy rains every year.