June floods kill 19, displace over 10,000

Photo People wades through the flooded streets of Mawlamyine in Mon State. Photo - Khan Ti

​20 June 18The strong monsoon that has pummeled the country with heavy rain since last week has claimed the lives of 19 people while displacing more than 10,000 families across the country, a Department of Disaster Management official told The Myanmar Times on Tuesday.

Regions and states affected by the deluge include Magwe, Mon, Rakhine, Kayin, Kayah, Shan, Sagaing and Ayeyarwady.

The most affected state by the flood is Rakhine, where six people died and around 7500 families were evacuated to safer places. Magwe followed with eight people dead about 4000 families fleeing their homes.

Mon was also submerged in the worst flooding in 40 years, which killed one person and displaced 2500 families. One fatality was reported each in Kayah and Sagaing. Ayeyarwady also register one death and 800 households displaced by the floods.

"Most deaths were due to being swept away and drowning in strong currents. One victim died after being bitten by a snake while struggling in the flood," Daw Phyu Lae Lae Tun, director of the department, said.

She said the department is arranging compensation for those who died or were injured as well as food for the displaced families.

Daw Phyu Lae Lae Tun said the department would carry out awareness campaigns in cooperation with civil society groups.

"The coming months are more prone to flooding. That's why we're carrying out preparations across the country," she said.

Since the start of the monsoon in June, the Rakhine coast and central Myanmar has experienced heavy rain, U Kyaw Lwin Oo, director of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, said.

He said the measurement of rain on Sunday morning in Mawlamyine was 1.88 inches per hour, which was high.

"If there is heavy rain within a short period of time in big cities, flooding will occur. The water is unable to drain fast enough to the sea or rivers, so it overflows," said U Kyaw Lwin Oo.

Rainfall has also reached record levels of 11.69 inches in Mudon of Mon State and 4.88 inches in Magwe township.

The water level of the Chindwin and Sittaung rivers is beyond critical in Mawlaik, Mingin and Ma Dauk towns.

The monsoon will continue to gain strength through August, the DMH forecasts.

It warned that the monsoon may gain greater momentum and create a cyclone.

U Kyaw Lwin Oo said people should carefully monitor DMH announcements, which are made five times a day if necessary. "They need to make preparations based on their own experiences."

He added that strong rain would continue around the country this week, especially in Shan and Kachin.

He warned people living by rivers to be cautious, as water levels would dramatically rise, which could cause flooding and erosion of riverbanks; and people living in hills to be alert against landslides.

"July and August normally see the highest water level in rivers. We have heavier rain in the beginning of the monsoon season," he said.

​Source: Myanmar Times

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