Cyclone Mocha Destroys Myanmar’s Farmland in Sagaing and Magwe

By The Irrawaddy 17 May 2023

Cyclone Mocha flooded huge swathes of Sagaing Region farmland with deaths and property damage also reported in neighboring Magwe Region.

The storm made landfall on Myanmar’s west coast in Rakhine State on Sunday with winds of up to 195km (120 miles) per hour, before crossing into neighboring Chin State and Sagaing and Magwe regions.

Over 40 square kilometers in the west of Khin-U Township in Sagaing Region have been inundated since Sunday.

A Khin-U resident said: “Farms are flooded and we can’t pump water away as the river is still swollen. The crops will probably be ruined.”

People reap crops in a flooded farm in Myaung, Sagaing Region. / Ko Nway Oo in Myaung

Mung beans and sesame seeds are grown in Khin-U Township.

Around 70 percent of farms could have been damaged in neighboring Depayin Township with beans fields flooded, said Depayin Brothers, a civil society organization.

Sagaing is one of Myanmar’s anti-regime resistance strongholds and junta troops raided villages in Khin-U on Sunday during the storms, displacing around 3,000 residents, according to villagers.

A resident said: “Displaced people can’t return to their homes. They are staying in the forest and are short of food. Some are using tarpaulins over their ox carts for shelter.”

In Salingyi Township, five villages, including three torched by junta soldiers, were flooded, said Anyar Pyit Taing Htaung Lay, a group helping the displaced.

Flooded farmland in Khin-U Township. / Khin-U Information

“It rained continuously. Huts used by displaced villagers on the Chindwin riverbank were swept away. They have had to find new shelters,” said a member of the group.

In Yinmabin Township in southern Sagaing, thousands were displaced when an irrigation canal burst its banks.

Displaced villagers are taking shelter at monasteries and need food and medicine, said a resident.

Flooding hit paddy, mung bean, black gram and sesame farms in Myaung Township, according to the Civil Defense and Security Organization in Myaung.

More than 13,000 villagers in Kani Township fled into forests amid heavy rain following junta raids on May 12. Roads into the area are flooded.

Flooded farmland in Khin-U Township. / Khin-U Information

In the Magwe Region town of Sin Phyu Kyun, three people were swept away by a swollen river and hundreds of houses were damaged when flash floods came down off the Rakhine Yoma mountains and Chin hills.

“Three people and at least 100 cattle died in the floods,” said a Sin Phyu Kyun resident who is helping with the rescue work.

The power of the storm took Sin Phyu Kyun residents by surprise. There were no warnings or help from the junta’s administration, according to residents.

A Sin Phyu Kyun resident told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday: “The flood appeared in about five minutes. We had no time to prepare and the damage was heavy. The water has not retreated yet and no rescue teams have arrived.”

In Saw Township displacement camps were destroyed and farms flooded but the extent of the damage is unknown because communications are down, said Gangaw District People’s Authority.