A massive landslide that has claimed more than 1,300 lives across the Bangladesh-India border has triggered fresh concerns for the country’s people and a renewed push to improve safety measures ahead of the World Cup.
The mudslide hit a rural area of Sargodha district on Friday morning, sending boulders of up to 6 meters (20 feet) tall and damaging about 3,200 houses and shops, police said.
Most of the deaths were among people who were working on the road and the village’s main road, said police Superintendent of Police B.J. Nandwani.
The landslide damaged some houses, a power substation and a mobile phone network, and forced residents to flee the area.
“We have registered over 1,000 cases of deaths,” said Sargadhan Bhattacharya, a village elder.
“People have gone to the police station to file complaints.”
Bangladesh is preparing to host the 2022 World Cup with a total population of around 3.6 million, which could swell to more than 10 million as the country is grappling with a pandemic and its own refugee crisis.
Many people are still living in tents and some people are working on roads and railways, but the disaster has caused fears of worsening overcrowding and rising deaths in the country.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised that the country will be better prepared for the tournament.
But it remains unclear how the new landslide will affect the tournament and its sponsors.
“The main reason for postponing the World Games is to protect the lives of the players and their families,” the World Rugby Football Association (WRFA) said in a statement on Friday.
“We are also asking the government to provide a safe zone for players to play.”