The Irrawaddy

More Than 63,000 People Affected by Bago Flooding

Yangon, Thailand — One woman is missing and over 63,000 people from 85 villages in 17 village tracts in Yedashe Township, Taungoo district have been affected by flooding since the Swar Creek Dam was breached on Wednesday morning, according to state-run media and the Bago Region government office.

Regional lawmaker U Kyaw Kyaw said one person had died and six others were missing as of Wednesday night, though these figures were not reported in state-run media on Thursday.

Heavy rainfall over the past week caused water to overrun the dam and pour into the Sittaung River, which flooded villages along its east bank. Officials said the amount of water flowing out of the dam was decreasing. U Kyaw Kyaw told The Irrawaddy, however, that they remain worried as the river was still very swollen. The Sittaung River flooded severely last month.

The Meteorological Department on Thursday also warned residents of Madauk and Shwe Kyin near the Sittaung and Shwe Kyin rivers in Bago region and Hpaan near the Salween River “to take precautionary measures” as the water had reached a dangerous level. It also warned that the Bago River is likely to reach dangerous levels in the next two days.

Government ministers, officials, soldiers and firefighters have been making desperate rescue efforts since the spillway burst on Wednesday, flooding villages and causing a bridge on the Yangon-Mandalay Highway in Yedashe Township to buckle, disrupting commuters and transportation.

The Swar Bridge on the Yangon-Mandalay Highway is undergoing rapid repairs. Officials began allowing trucks and buses to pass on Thursday afternoon.

Along with ongoing rescue and relief efforts, the Ministry of Construction is making efforts to repair other bridges affected by the flooding, said Construction Minister U Han Zaw.

The Swar Creek Dam is 337 feet high and can hold 216,350 acre-feet of water. State media reported that due to the heavy rainfall, the water level had overrun by about 1.6 feet, destroying the spillway.

Damaged walls are seen after the spillway of an irrigation dam burst at Swar Creek in Swar Township, Bago Region on Aug. 30, 2018. / Reuters

Bago Region hosts a large number of irrigation dams with huge capacity. The dams have been over-full due to heavy rainfall since the start of the monsoon season in May.

Meanwhile another 32 villages and six quarters in Okpho Township in Tharrawaddy district of Bago were inundated on Wednesday due to heavy rainfalls.

From late July to mid-August, 10 townships in Bago’s four districts — Bago, Taungoo, Pyay and Thayawady — have been flooded. Over 137,000 acres of farmland out of almost 500,000 acres have been inundated, the Bago Region Government Office said on Aug. 15.

Over 116,000 residents of the 10 townships have been affected. Bago is the most flood-affected area in the country, but other regions have also faced flooding including Magwe, Tanintharyi, Irrawaddy, Sagaing and Naypyitaw, as well as Chin, Karenni, Karen and Mon states.

The flooding in July and August has so far affected more than 210,000 people in over 9,900 households, and caused 13 deaths nationwide, according to figures released by the National Natural Disaster Management Committee on Aug. 25.

Htet Naing Zaw contributed to this report from Yedashe Township.