Heavy Rains Expected as Depression Looms over Bay of Bengal

By Nobel Zaw 28 July 2015

RANGOON — A tropical depression over the Bay of Bengal is unlikely to make landfall in Burma, the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology announced on Tuesday, warning that the storm could still trigger flash floods and landslides across the country.

State-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported that the storm, which has been issued a yellow alert, is now about 225 kilometers (140 miles) from Maungdaw on Burma’s Arakan coast near the border with Bangladesh.

Meteorologist Tun Lwin predicted on social media that “the storm cannot pass Myanmar’s coastal places,” adding that it was unlikely to increase in strength and will eventually head toward India.

Heavy rains are expected to continue, however, in most parts of the country, particularly on the coast, where many people live in poor, remote seaside villages and internal displacement camps.

“Nearly [the entire] western part of Burma will be flooded,” Tun Lwin posted on his Facebook page.

Most at risk are Arakan State, southern Chin State, lower Sagaing, Irrawaddy, Magwe, Pegu and Rangoon divisions.

According to NASA satellite data recorded on Monday evening, parts of Arakan State received seven inches of rainfall in the 24 hours prior, while levels reached between three and seven inches in other parts of the country.

Rainfall in southeastern Burma’s Karen and Mon states ended up under three inches on Monday, as did the levels in the northern reaches of the country in Kachin and Shan states.

The death toll continues to rise as flooding over the past week has swept away houses and bridges and left thousands stranded in monasteries and other emergency shelters across the central plain.

At least seven rescue workers reportedly died during initial response operations last week, and state media has reported at least 11 other flood-related deaths in Mandalay Division and Shan State.

Three were killed and three others are still missing after a bridge collapsed in Shan State’s Hsipaw on Saturday, while in Sagaing Division’s Kawlin Township about 88 villages remain inundated, casting some 6,000 people into emergency shelters where aid workers are struggling to deliver supplies.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said heavy rains are expected to continue for the next three days.