Floods in Karen State Displace More Than 7,000

By Myat Su Mon 30 July 2013

Heavy rains have caused flooding along the Salween River in southern Burma’s Karen State and more than 7,000 people have evacuated to higher ground, local officials said on Monday.

Authorities in Hpa-an and Myawaddy districts said the river had burst its banks and inundated large parts of Hpa-an, Hlaing Bwe, Kyar Inn Seik Kyi, Myawaddy, Paing Kyone and Kyondo townships.

About 30 relief camps have been set up on higher ground in order to provide shelter to 7,795 people whose homes have been flooded, according to officials.

Karen State Social Affairs Minister Chit Hlaing said water levels in the Salween had risen rapidly and passed danger levels this weekend. “The water level now is at over 850 cm and has gone beyond the danger mark,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“We are currently taking care of flood victims with all our means. We have more than 10 million kyat [US$ 10,000] leftover funds from last year’s donations. We provide each of them with a small amount of rice and egg rations. We have also opened clinics in the camps to care for their health,” Chit Hlaing said.

From Saturday to Sunday, water levels in the Salween River rose rapidly, increasing with 49 cm in just 24 hours, government newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported, adding that on Sunday water level were already 4 cm above danger levels.

The Meteorology and Hydrology Department warned that water levels would continue to rise until Tuesday, as heavy rains continue.

On Monday night, new 24-hour rainfall records were set in Kawkareik Township, Karen State, and in Monghsat Township, Shan State, which received 10.94 inches and 5.04 inches of rain, respectively, the newspaper reported.

The heavy rain and flooding have reportedly resulted in closure of some schools in Hpa-an Township and landslides along the roads through the Dawna mountain range, which connect the towns of Myawaddy and Kawkareik.

“We are now taking necessary measures to clear the road, which was blocked by landslides, while also taking care of food for flood victims in our area,” said Tint Wai Thon, the administrator of Myawaddy District on the Burma-Thailand border, where nine camps have been established.

In the meantime, thousands of people in Thai border town Mae Sot, located opposite Myawaddy, have been evacuated due to flooding of the Thaung Yin (Moei) River.

Thai newspaper The Nation reported that flooding in Mae Sot district was the worst in 20 years. It said Burma-Thailand border trade in the area had been halted for four days, leading to a loss of business worth US$40 million.