In the upper reaches, Meghalaya and Assam in India and Sylhet region are seeing heavy torrential rains. The Meteorological Department has forecast that it will continue for next couple of days. As a result of this catastrophic disaster, it has become a huge challenge to provide safe shelter to millions of people on an emergency basis and to provide them with food and clean water and medical care.

Prothom Alo reports that the waterlogged people are crying for help. People are running in search of shelter. Children and the elderly are most at risk. The trapped people are being rescued and taken to the shelters. People are taking shelter wherever they find high and dry places. All the upazilas and half of the Sylhet city, upazilas and municipal cities of Sunamganj have been flooded. The Sylhet-Sunamganj highway and the Sylhet-Bholaganj Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman highway have submerged. Hundreds of shelters have been opened in the two districts.

After Sunamganj, power supply to Sylhet has been cut off. Due to the blackout, the mobile network and internet services in Sunamganj have been shut down, creating an unimaginable crisis. Many expressed concern on social media that they could not communicate with their flood-hit relatives. No one was prepared for the catastrophic floods that swept from the upstream. People cannot buy daily commodities like rice, lentils and oil from the market as the markets and shops are submerged in the flood waters.

As a result, the effects of the ongoing disaster are grave and multidimensional. At the moment, a large number people irrespective of their social stature need emergency food aid, especially cooked food, dry food and drinking water. Affected areas require large amounts of saline, water purification tablets and candles. Sick people and expectant mothers need special medical care.

Anticipating the horrific turn of events, the government has deployed troops and navy in the flood-hit areas. Rescue operations are underway using cruisers and helicopters. The army medical team is providing medical assistance. But dealing with such a catastrophe is not possible for the government alone. Students and cultural activists have played a significant role in such disasters in the past.

Students, cultural activists, NGOs, voluntary organisations, political organisations and the wealthy should work together with the military and administration to come to the aid of the flood victims. This disaster is not only the people of Sylhet alone. National unity is essential during this humanitarian disaster in Sylhet.

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