Flooding Hits Sagaing, Affecting Thousands of Homes

By Moe Myint 9 June 2016

RANGOON — After heavy rains fell Wednesday night, severe flooding struck at least four sections of downtown Kawlin, Sagaing Division.

Thet Lwin Htay, vice chairman of the local Free Funeral Service Association (FFSA), said water levels reached 6-7 feet high in Kyawzayya, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myauk Inn and Zae Yone Tiek wards of Kawlin. He estimated 5,000 households were affected. Some houses were completely submerged, and roads have been rendered unusable.

He said this is the first flood of the year.

In July 2015, flooding hit in Kawlin twice, reportedly killing around 20 people and affecting almost 49,000 people out of a population of 145,000.

Currently, FFSA is distributing rice to the affected quarters’ residents and rescuing the children and elderly who are unable to swim. As of Thursday morning, there were no fatalities due to the flood, and the Sagaing Division Chief Minister is expected to visit Kawlin to oversee relief efforts.

Thet Lwin Htay speculated the flooding was due to overflowing water reservoirs, which are located on the outskirts of the town. In that area, more than 100 gold mining companies have created man-made lakes to store water for the gold-dust filtering process.

The sudden, heavy rainfall unexpectedly broke the reservoirs’ embankments, causing the water to flood into the downtown area, the FFSA vice chairman said.

The companies that built these reservoirs were not available for immediate comment.

A government-run paper issued an emergency statement saying some schools and police stations faced flooding, and local authorities and civil society organizations were working together to prevent injuries and deaths.