At least 79 people have been killed in mudslides following heavy rain in the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh, officials say.

Many others are missing after a hill partially collapsed onto a shanty town.

Scores of injured have been taken to hospital and many bodies are still trapped under rubble, police say.

Heavy monsoon rains have paralysed much of Bangladesh since Sunday morning and weather officials say they expect showers to continue for several days.

'So much water'

Meteorologists say more than 20cm of rain fell in just a few hours in Chittagong, 220km (135 miles) south-east of the capital, Dhaka.

Rescuers spent Monday frantically digging through rubble looking for survivors after the mudslides, but the body count continued to climb.

By late evening local time, Chittagong divisional commissioner Mokhlesur Rahman said the number of dead had risen to 79.

Rescue work was continuing through the night, he said, and the death toll was expected to rise.

Mr Rahman said the worst affected area was that of Hathazari, where teams were searching for the occupants of three houses still buried under four metres of mud.

Army soldiers and fire-fighters have been called out to help with the rescue operations.

Shops and schools in the affected areas are closed and officials say some people are stranded in waist-deep water.

"These are the worst ever rain-triggered landslides in Chittagong," said fire brigade chief Rashedul Islam, the AFP news agency reports.

"Home after home has been buried in tonnes of mud and we still haven't reached all the affected areas yet."

He said it might take until Tuesday for rescuers to recover the bodies of all the dead.

Many Dhaka residents said the weather was among the worst they could remember.

"I have never seen so much water in my life," one 75-year-old man, Mofizur Rahman, told the Associated Press news agency.

Many parts of Chittagong are cut off by the flooding and telephone links with the rest of Bangladesh have been affected.

"One-third of the city is now under three to four feet [about one metre] of water, affecting more than 1.5 million people," said Chittagong's mayor, Manjurul Alam, AFP reports.

Correspondents say environmental experts have been warning for some time that the risk of landslides had increased because of illegal clearing of hillsides for housing.