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Viral video reunites Bangladeshi with family after 48 years

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Dhaka (AFP)

An ailing Bangladeshi who went missing almost half a century ago has been reunited with his family after a video appeal on Facebook seeking help for his treatment went viral.

Habibur Rahman was a 30-year-old businessman and father-of-four in the northeastern city of Sylhet when he disappeared in 1972 after travelling for work to the port city of Chittagong, his family said.

His family, most of whom now live abroad, searched for him for years without success -- until the wife of one of his grandsons in the United States spotted him in the video uploaded this month.

Rahman became an itinerant living in Sufi shrines in Moulvibazar district according to his caregiver Rajiya Begum, who has been looking after him for the past five years.

He was admitted to a local hospital earlier this month after breaking his arm.

Unable to pay for his surgery, Begum asked another patient in the hospital to film a video of Rahman's plight and post it on Facebook on his behalf.

The footage was shared and re-uploaded by other users and viewed at least a million times.

"She notified us and we rushed to the hospital and found my grandfather alive," Kefayat Hussain, one of Rahman's 13 grandchildren and who lives in Sylhet, told AFP on Monday his sister-in-law's discovery.

The 20-year-old said Rahman confirmed his late wife's and other family members' names.

"He could not recognise us at first but when he saw my father's elder cousins, he right away knew it was us. He wept like a baby," Hussain said.

"He kept asking questions about my grandma and uncles who live abroad."

Rahman's family do not know why he went missing, but said after years of uncertainty they were just happy to find out that he is alive.

Rahman's third son Jalal Uddin, who also lives in Sylhet and was one-and-a-half years old when his father disappeared, said his "heart bled for long 48 years as I barely remembered my father's face".

Relatives were flying from Britain and the US to Bangladesh for a family reunion, he told AFP.

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