The Irrawaddy

Bridge on Yangon-Mandalay Road Damaged as Dam Overflows

YEDASHE TOWNSHIP, Bago Region — The road across the Swar Bridge on the Yangon-Mandalay highway in Bago’s Yedashe (Yaytarshay) Township

was buckled on Wednesday after being hit by a surge of water from the Swar Creek Dam, whose sluice gates were breached earlier in the morning, according to the Ministry of Construction.

This part of the route, at miles No. 165/166 on the new highway, was temporarily closed after water overran it. A stretch of the old Yangon-Mandalay highway at mile No. 199, faced same situation in the township.

The 810-foot-long Swar Bridge was built by military engineers under the Ministry of Defense in December 2006 and opened in October 2008.

The section of the bridge’s road surface between Pillars 5 and 7 were damaged. U Kyaw Lin, the deputy minister of construction, said engineers would repair it overnight “and then we will be able to allow [all] vehicles to cross, including trucks and buses.”

The road was under about 4 feet of water at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, so the road was temporarily closed, he said.

“After 10:50 a.m. it dropped, and we allowed small vehicles to cross.  The most important thing is that vehicles can keep moving and there is no delay to land transport,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Casualty figures were not yet known, but residents were evacuated from more than a dozen villages. The water immersed rice fields in the area, as well as a monastery and areas where cows and buffaloes are held, according to residents of Kyot Pin Thar village in Yedashe Township.

Local resident U Hla Tun, who came to inspect the situation near the Swar Creek bridge, told The Irrawaddy he was worried about a friend’s family who lived on the other side of the dam and were not reachable by phone Wednesday.

The dam began overflowing on Monday, according to state media. It said there was no cause for concern about a collapse as the structure is strong, citing the Taunggoo irrigation and water management committee.

The Bago Region government on Wednesday warned residents of villages near Sittaung village to stay alert. Bago Region has been hit by floods since July.

Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Dr. Win Myat Aye; the Minister of the Office of the State Counselor, U Kyaw Tint Swe; Vice President Henry Van Thio, who is also chairman of the National Natural Disaster Management Committee; and Myanmar military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing visited the affected areas on Wednesday morning.

Htet Naing Zaw and Kyaw Myo contributed to this report from Yedashe Township.