48 Dead in Bangladesh Landslides

48 Dead in Bangladesh Landslides

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- Heavy rains triggered landslides that killed at least 48 people in southeast Bangladesh, officials said Tuesday, as police and soldiers struggled to reach the remote districts with aid.

It was not immediately clear if any villagers were still missing after large chunks of mud swept over thatched homes and settlements in three hilly districts on Monday. Military spokesman Rezaul Karim said several soldiers had been killed while clearing debris and mud from a highway.

"Two officers and two soldiers have died, and two others remain missing in the incident," Karim said by telephone.

Rains that began early Monday had cleared by Tuesday, allowing rescuers to work faster in searching for survivors. But the firefighters, police and soldiers deployed to help were having trouble reaching some affected areas, said Reaz Ahmed, a senior disaster management official.

"The death toll could rise since many areas remain cut off," he said.

Officials said at least 26 were dead in the worst-hit district of Rangamati. Twelve were killed in Chittagong, according to Ekattor TV. At least 10 others died in Bandarban, according to fire official Tarikul Islam.

Bangladesh, a delta nation of 160 million people, is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and landslides. Many people in hilly regions ignore authorities' calls to avoid constructing homes on slopes.