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Scores killed as landslides sweep through hillside villages

Fire fighters retrieve the body of a victim of landslides in Chittagong, Bangladesh, June 27, 2012. 

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DHAKA, Bangladesh -- At least 48 people have been killed in landslides triggered by strong rains in three hilly districts of southeast Bangladesh, officials and media reports said Tuesday.

Large chunks of mud swept over many thatched homes after the rains began early Monday across the South Asian country due to a tropical depression.

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Bangladeshi fire fighters search for bodies after a landslide in Chittagong, June 27, 2012.

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Military spokesman Rezaul Karim said several soldiers were killed as they were clearing debris and mud on a highway after a landslide.

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

Officials said at least 26 people died in the worst-hit district of Rangamati. Twelve died in Chittagong, Ekattor TV station reported. Fire official Tarikul Islam in Bandarban said at least 10 people died there.

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A woman mourns next to the bodies of her relatives (not pictured) after a landslide in Bandarban, Bangladesh, June 13, 2017.

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Rescue operations were underway but many remote areas were difficult to reach, said Reaz Ahmed, a senior disaster management official.

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

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.