Landslides and floods caused by heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 76 in southern Bangladesh and rescuers are searching for more missing people, officials said.

Three days of rain have hit the region of small hills and forests, and huge chunks of earth and mud buried flimsy huts where families were sleeping.

Many homeless people live at the foot of the hills or close to them despite warnings from authorities.

Monsoon floods are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 160 million people. Many of the dead were women and children, and the death toll is likely to rise, officials said.

Volunteers using loudspeakers warned people about the danger of landslides during the recent monsoon rains, said Jaynul Bari, a government administrator in one of the stricken areas, the Cox’s Bazar district. The floods inundated dozens of villages and are disrupting communications.

The bodies of 32 adults and children were recovered in Bandarban district, said KM Tariqul Islam, the chief government administrator in the area, 155 miles south east of the capital, Dhaka.

Another 34 people died, most of them in landslides, in neighbouring Cox’s Bazar. Mr Bari said 23 bodies were recovered from the debris of mostly mud and straw huts in the remote Ukhia region and another 11 people drowned in floodwaters.

About 200 displaced people were ferried to school buildings on high ground, he said.

In Chittagong, another district in the region, the bodies of 10 people whose houses were buried in landslides have been recovered, fire official Jasim Uddin said.

An airport in Chittagong was closed for hours yesterday after floodwater swamped its runway, officials said. It reopened today after the rain stopped.