RANGOON — Three young students drowned in Irrawaddy Division as a boat transporting them home from school capsized on Monday.
The students, in grades five, eight and 10, attended Kwin Thone Sint Basic Education School in Yekyi Township, which has been affected by severe flooding in recent weeks as rainwater from Upper Burma has flowed downstream to the Irrawaddy delta.
The Pathein District Education Department has temporarily closed 258 schools in response to the tragedy, according to district official Nyan Thein.
“Although the schools aren’t flooded, students have to sail across a vast area of water to get to class, which is very risky,” Nyan Thein told The Irrawaddy. The department held an emergency meeting on Monday and decided to close all basic education schools in the area to prevent further accidents, he said.
Severe flooding has led to the closure of about 1,400 schools throughout the country according to figures from state media published last week.
In Irrawaddy Division alone, all basic education schools in Nyaungdon Township and some in Hinthada, Kyangin, Zalun, Laymyatnar, Thabaung, Kyaunggon and Pantanaw have been indefinitely shuttered.
More than 250,000 people have been affected by the floods in four of six districts in the coastal division—Hinthada, Pathein, Maubin and Labutta—according to the divisional government.