Floods Displace Scores Across S. Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 8 August 2019

YANGON—Heavy monsoon rains have displaced some 26,000 people in 14 townships across southern Myanmar since Saturday. 

Affected regions include Karen and Mon states and Bago, Tannithary and Irrawaddy regions. 

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology announced that flooding will continue in Hpa-an, the capital of Karen State, at least until Friday, with water levels on the Salween River exceeding dangerous levels. 

Also reaching or exceeding established danger levels are the Bilin River in Mon State, the Sittaung and Shwe Kyin rivers in Bago Region and the Nga Wan River in Irrawaddy Region, while water levels on the Moei River, on the Thailand-Myanmar border, are expected to drop by Thursday, the department said. 

A deep tropical depression over India early this week brought heavy rains across Myanmar, with record-setting downpours in Yangon on Wednesday, according to the department.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement’s Disaster Management Department said that, as of Wednesday, more than 17,300 people from nearly 4,000 households are taking temporary shelter at relief camps, and that they will gradually update that number as more people are affected. 

According to Daw Phyu Lei Lei Tun, the Disaster Management Department’s director and spokesperson, three people died last month in Kachin State and Magwe Region due to heavy rains.

Such inundations are not uncommon in Myanmar, which has seen heavy rain this year since June 25. 

Since July, flooding has affected around 105,000 people, the majority of them in the upper Myanmar—most of whom have already resettled back in their homes, said Daw Phyu Lei Lei Tun. 

As of Aug. 7, the ministry had spent more than 250 million kyats supporting flood victims, she said.

As of Wednesday, there were some 9,200 people taking shelter in 27 disaster emergency relief centers in the Karen State capital of Hpa-an and the townships of Myawaddy, Kawkariek, Hlaing Bwe and Kyar Inn Seik Gyi, according to a Karen State Police report. 

In Mon State’s Bilin and Kyaikmaraw townships, over 7,200 people have been taking shelter at relief camps since Monday. 

Regular Yangon-Mawlamyine-Dawei rail service was disrupted Tuesday afternoon due to flooding but was operating regularly again by Wednesday afternoon, according to railway station chief U Khin Nyunt from Taung Son, in Mon state.  

In Bago Region as of Wednesday, more than 5,000 people in Moe Nyo, Kyauk Gyi and Shwe Kyin townships were in emergency shelters and another 4,900 in Nyaung Lay Bin and Madauk townships sought temporary shelter at relief camps, according to a statement released by the Bago Regional Government on Thursday.

So far, the number of people displaced by flooding is lower this year than last, when flooding affected 210,000 people in July and August and killed 10 in July. 

Nyan Soe Win contributed to this report.

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