CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh – A torrent of mudslides, flooding and lightning washed away a shantytown crowded with migrant workers in southeastern Bangladesh, killing 105 people and leaving scores unaccounted for, officials and witnesses said.
The worst-hit area was the hilly port city of Chittagong, where large chunks of earth slid off the soaked hillsides, burying dozens of crudely built shacks. Army rescuers pulled at least 21 bodies from the debris Tuesday, city official Nur Sulaiman said. Two other bodies were recovered from a pond, he added.
More than 50 more people were reported missing in the shantytown, which is located near a military area, he added.
The slum's estimated 700 residents were mostly migrant workers and their families, who lived in clusters of straw-and-bamboo or mud-and-tin shanties built along the slopes or at the bottom of the dirt hills, survivors said.
One survivor, Dulu Mia Munshi, a rickshaw puller, lost five family members, including his wife and two small sons.
"There was a sudden rush of mud and water, and our home was swept away," Munshi told The Associated Press over mobile phone from his hospital bed. Five other neighboring shanties on a slope, with 22 inhabitants, were also washed away.
Munshi and his mother-in-law, who had left their hut minutes before, were the only survivors. Munshi was carried several feet away, and suffered sprained ankles and a fractured waist.
"My sons, aged 8 and 10, slept next to each other," he said, recalling the last time he saw his children.
Munshi had moved to Chittagong from the southern coastal district of Bhola in search of work almost 18 years ago.
Another victim, an 11-year-old-boy who gave his name as Belal only, lost his mother and two sisters.
"My mother asked me get some bricks to stop the rushing water from getting inside our house," Belal told reporters at a military hospital where he was being treated for head and limb injuries. "As soon as I stepped outside, I was carried away by the swirling water -- and a huge chunk of earth buried our house."
The country's interim leader, Fakhruddin Ahmed, on Tuesday visited the worst-hit areas, the United News of Bangladesh news agency said. He went to a military hospital where 47 seriously injured victims were being treated and distributed emergency rations among survivors at an army-run relief shelter nearby.
"Our first task is to rescue, treat and help rehabilitate the affected people," Ahmed told reporters.
At least 67 died across the city Monday, while another four bodies were found overnight, officials said. The lightning strikes killed 11 people in the neighboring districts of Cox's Bazar, Noakhali and Brahmmanbaria, the Food and Disaster Management Ministry said.
Many of the dead were buried by city officials in rows of grave on hillside graveyards that were left dry.
Many areas remained without power or water as supply stations were flooded in the city of 4 million, 135 miles southeast of the capital, Dhaka. Several city roads remained covered in slippery sludge, and the ground floors of many houses were water-logged, residents said.
The rains, which had eased by late Monday, resumed in torrents early Tuesday, flooding afresh parts of Chittagong, the weather bureau and witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of new mudslides.
About 8.4 inches of rain fell in just three hours early Monday, the local weather bureau said.
Authorities moved hundreds of people in vulnerable areas to shelters in concrete school buildings, rescue officials said.
Government and charity agencies distributed food and water to about 1,000 people left homeless by the calamity, the area's government administrator Mukhlesur Rahman said. Emergency workers had managed to rescue more than 50 injured people from the rubble.
Many residents said the rainfall and flooding were among the worst in memory.
Several factories in an industrial belt around the city were also flooded, stopping production and causing extensive damage to machinery. The city's telephone, television and radio networks were also interrupted as transmission stations were flooded.
Heavy monsoon rains -- the highest recorded levels in seven years -- also inundated parts of the capital Dhaka and other regions of the country over the weekend.
Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 144 million people, is buffeted by cyclones and floods that kill hundreds of people every year. A powerful cyclone in 1991 killed 139,000 people along the coast.