Five dead, nearly 100,000 displaced by Myanmar floods

flood-1 People in Bago Region wade through floodwater as they move to higher ground. The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology warns of more rain this week. Kaung Htet/The Myanmar Times

30 July 18 - ​At least five people have been killed and over 95,000 people have been forced to flee their homes by widespread flooding in seven states and regions during the past week, the Disaster Management Department said.

It said two people died in the floods in Magwe, and one each in Tanintharyi, Bago and Nay Pyi Taw.

Sagaing and Ayeyarwady regions, and Mon and Kayin states were also hits by flooding, the department said.

On Thursday, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited Hpa-an township in Kayin to console evacuees, and on Saturday, President U Win Myint visited Bago Region to check on flood victims.

Knut Ostby, United Nations resident coordinator in Myanmar, expressed great concern about the flooding and devastation of the country caused by heavy rain.

"My thoughts are with the families whose lives have been impacted by the floods. I'm alarmed by the destruction of property, infrastructure & agricultural land," he said in a statement issued by his office.

"The UN in Myanmar is mobilising its partners, resources and capacity and is offering to provide support to the ongoing assistance delivered to the victims of the floods by the Government of Myanmar, civil society organisations, volunteers and other partners," it added. 

Residents make their way through flooded streets in Bago Region. Kaung Htet/The Myanmar Times

 U Kyaw Moe Oo, director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, warned of more rain in the coming week.

"The monsoon will be upgraded in Myanmar coastal areas over the next three days because of a depression that could trigger more rain through August 6," he said.

August is the rainiest month of the year in Myanmar, when water levels of rivers are likely to rise and cause more flooding.

On Sunday, the water level of the Ngawun river in Thabaung township in Ayeyarwady Region was about 2 inches below the danger level.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology advised people living by the river and in low lying areas in Thabaung to take necessary precautions against flash floods. Thabaung is flooded every year.

Several roads have also been affected. The Yangon-Mawlamyine highway was cut off at Bilin township in Mon State by a mountain torrent and tidal water.

People help push a stalled truck in Bago on Saturday. Kaung Htet/The Myanmar Times

 While Bilin did not experience heavy rain, the township was flooded due to the mountain torrent, according to rescue teams helping to evacuate people.

The current was very strong in Bilin creek, according to Ma Sun Myat Pan, a passenger on a motorised boat from nearby Thaton township.

"I have never seen a water like this before. Everyone wants to get out of Thaton. There were few rescuers and not enough boats," she said.

Thousands of people are trapped in Thaton, and although there are food supplies, they would soon run out because of the huge number of people trapped in the township.

"Everyone wants to get out of there, so they just take whatever they can get. Those who came from Myawaddy are also trapped. There is water everywhere," Ma Sun Myat Pan said.

Rescuers said passengers on one motorised boat from Thaton heading to Bilin had to be rescued after the vessel's propeller broke on a tree stump.

"The people on the boat have been rescued," said a Tatmadaw (military) member carrying out rescue work.

Volunteers arrive in Bilin township on Sunday to aid victims. Kaung Hthet/The Myanmar Times

Three soldiers who were carrying out rescue work in Bilin township have been reported missing.

Roads and railroads in Bilin have been shut for three days due to the flood. Trucks and passenger cars were stuck at the town entrance due to flash floods and the rising water.

The Mon government stopped buses from leaving their terminals on Friday due to the heavy rain.

"There may be about 300 vehicles trapped at the township entrance. We have to wait and cannot do anything because it is a natural disaster," said a driver, whose car was among those trapped.

The state government blocked the road for fear that the river level could rise at anytime.

Trucks cannot pass through Mon, Kayin and Tanintharyi due to the floods and volunteers distributed food to the trapped travellers. 

​Source: Myanmar Times

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