Dhaka, Sept. 2, Reuter — Monsoon floods which have killed more than 400 people in Bangladesh put the survival of the country in danger, president Bangladesh put the survival of the country in danger, President Husain Mohammad Ershad said.

“This time, survival seems difficult,” he told newspaper editors on Thursday.

Officials said on Friday at least 30 people drowned and 20 were killed by snakes during the past 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 400. Unofficial estimates put the number at more than 800.

“The death toll will rise when reports from remove areas will be available,” one official told reporters.

Ershad said at least two million tons of crops may have been lost already, causing “incalculable damage to the country’s economy.”

Agriculture officials said floods since June had washed away 700 million dollars’ worth of rice and jute crops.

An estimated 10 million people, or more than 10 per cent of the total population, are stranded by the flooding, many perched on proof tops or on trees, rescuers say.

Thousands of families are huddled on river embankments and highways, waiting for relief supplies to arrive.

Half of the capital, Dhaka, is under water, forcing many of the six million residents to climb on roofs or take shelter in a few high rise buildings and makeshift camps.

Floodwaters have entered Ershad’s residence in Dhaka’s mail military bar racks.

Health officials in Dhaka said nearly a third of the deaths reported so far was from snakebites.

About two million people are homeless in Dhaka itself. The city’s traditional forms of transport are being replaced by boats.

Fresh water supplies, power and telephone lines have failed in many parts of the city of six million people.

Food is in increasingly short supply and prices have soared for what little is available.

“I should not manage to find a drop of milk for my six month old baby, but whose sin are we suffering?” said Aleya Begum, squatting helplessly in a flood shelter.

“It’s like hell being stranded for days together,’ said Khabir Ahmed. Water has reached the second floor of his four storey house in Dhaka’s Mirput suburb.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 9, 1988