Fears Grow As Flooding Displaces 150,000 In Myanmar


NAYPYIDAW — Fears that embank­ments could burst under fresh rains mounted in flooded southeastern Myanmar, where some 150,000 people have been forced from their homes and a dozen people killed.

A vast area of farmland across four provinces lies under muddy water with res­cue teams trying to reach vil­lages by boat to provide food to those who are unable or refuse to leave their homes.

Above the town of Madauk in Bago region, floodwaters are only inches from the top of vulnerable embankments that are so far holding fast, but locals are afraid that fresh monsoon rains could spell disaster.

“If this embankment doesn’t hold firm against the next flood, many more villag­es will be at high risk,” res­cue team leader Hlaing Min Oo told AFP as he oversaw a chain of volunteers loading a boat with food destined for marooned flood victims.

“For the moment, there’s little chance that the water levels will go down.” Evacuation orders are still in place across Bago, Karen, Mon and Taninthari prov­inces with 36 dams and reservoirs overflowing, ac­cording to state media.

State media reported on Thursday that 148,386 people are currently taking refuge in 327 camps.

The Myanma Alinn newspaper said nearly 28,000 are still in their flooded homes, either unable to es­cape to shelters or are opting to stay in the hope that water levels will start to recede.

AFP reporters travelled several hours to reach Mau­bin village in Shwe Kyin district with the relief boat on Wednesday, passing multiple settlements of half-submerged thatched homes, many with trapped residents looking out of upstairs win­dows at the inundations.

A monastery run by five monks was serving as a col­lection point for donated rice, noodles and biscuits in Maubin, a village of 108 households.

“Our house is just beside the river bank so we’re trying to move some­where higher,” 54-year-old Ohn Myint said, point­ing to the hills a couple of kilometres away.

Farmer and fisherman Win Kyu, 40, is primar­ily worried about his fields that now lie completely un­der water.

“We experienced flood­ing like this back in 2000 — this year is the worst since then,” he said. “If this goes on, people will struggle to make a living.”

Myanmar is only just en­tering peak monsoon season but it is not suffering alone.

Particularly heavy rains this year have lashed much of the Mekong region with a dam in neighbour­ing Laos collapsing last week, destroying several villages and leaving scores of people missing.

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