More than two lakh people have been marooned in Sylhet district as overflowing river waters have flooded almost every area in seven upazilas, including the city.
The rivers Surma, Kushiara, Sari, and Goain were flowing above danger levels till Tuesday afternoon which are likely to rise further with rains continuing upstream in India.
Due to the onrush of water from upstream and heavy showers in Bangladesh for the last couple of days, low-lying areas in Sylhet went under water. Road communications in different upazilas of Sylhet and the city snapped due to flash floods, with mounting suffering of inhabitants.
According to the Sylhet Water Development Board (WDB), river water has never risen so much since 2008. This is the biggest flood in the last 18 years and WDB officials fear the flood situation could worsen further if the rains continue upstream.
India's Cherrapunjee, upstream of Sylhet, has been experiencing 1,238 millimetre rains for the last five days, resulting in rising water levels of many rivers in Sylhet.
"The rainfall may continue till 23 June so the flood situation in Sylhet may further worsen," said Saeed Ahmad Chowdhury, senior meteorologist at the Sylhet met office.
On Tuesday afternoon, many areas of Sylhet city including Upashahar, Sheikhghat, Teratan, Mendibagh, Sobhanighat, Machimpur, Taltala, Kalighat, Kazirbazar, Laldighirpar, were knee-deep in water.
Forhad Ahmed, a resident of Sheikhghat, said his home has been flooded for the last two days. They are unable to cook food due to floodwaters.
The Surma River has been flowing about 150 cm above the danger mark at the Amalsid and Kanaighat points till Tuesday afternoon. The river is also flowing 30 cm above the danger mark at Sylhet Sadar point.
Some 20 river protection embankments have broken in different areas of the district due to the onrush of floodwaters, inundating low-lying areas of Sylhet Sadar, Companiganj, Gowainghat, Jaintapur and Kanaighat upazilas.
According to the Jaintapur Upazila Agriculture Officer, 40 acres of seedbed were submerged and about 100 hectares of boro paddy in six unions of the upazila have been inundated by the floods so far.
Jaintapur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Al Bashirul Islam said, "We have already distributed relief, dried food, and water purification tablets to flood victims."
More than 50,000 people in Barahal, Manikpur, Kajalshah and Birasree unions of Zakiganj upazila have been inundated by the floods. Road communication has been disrupted as most of the roads were inundated by flash floods.
Most areas of Kanaighat, Sadar, Gowainghat, Fenchuganj and Kompaniganj upazilas were also inundated by flash floods, snapping road connections there.
Abdul Karim Kim, general secretary of Sylhet Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), said the city was flooded as the Surma is filled with waste, especially plastic from locals.
He has demanded dredging of the Surma River on an emergency basis. "If the city's drainage system is not cleaned and redone in a planned manner, residents will have to face such suffering every year."
Nur Azizur Rahman, chief engineer of Sylhet City Corporation, said, "Two shelter centres have been opened in the city for flood victims. We took initiatives to distribute dry food in the city and two medical teams have also been formed."
Sylhet Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Mojibar Rahman said shelter centres have been opened in every flood-affected upazila. Needed food aid has also been provided.