Heavy Rains Flood Farmland, Shutter Schools in Delta Region

By Salai Thant Zin 30 July 2015

HINTHADA TOWNSHIP, Irrawaddy Division — Heavy rains have flooded more than 50,000 acres of farmland in Irrawaddy Division, according to state media, including over 10,000 acres in the districts of Hinthada and Pathein, where the floods have forced 62 schools to close this week.

“Sixty-two schools are closed as of yesterday [Tuesday] for fear of danger to students, because the schools are flooded,” Aung Kyaw Tun, head of the Irrawaddy Division Education Department, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday. “We will open the schools when the floods subside and it is safe. I have instructed that additional classes be held on weekends for students to be able to catch up on their lessons.”

Hinthada District’s Ingapu Township has been hardest hit, with 46 schools forced to close their doors due to the flooding.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation updated through Wednesday and released in state-run daily The Mirror on Thursday, a total of 53,091 acres of farmland are under water in Irrawaddy Division, the second hardest hit region in Burma after Sagaing Division, where 109,958 acres of farmland have been inundated.

Local farmers say more than 10,000 acres of farmland are under water in Hinthada, Zalun, Myanaung, and Kyangin townships.

“Almost one-third of all farmland in the surrounding areas of our village is inundated,” Soe Lwin, a farmer from Zalun Township, told The Irrawaddy. “There was inundation earlier this month and some crops were destroyed. We are afraid all the paddy plants will die if the inundation lasts long.”

“I’m afraid over 5,000 acres of farms are flooded in our township. And flooding is not subsiding because fishermen are fishing, blocking creeks. I would like the concerned authorities to ensure proper flow of water before the paddy plants die,” said Mya Win from Tada-U village in Hinthada Township.

Damage to some bridges and homes has also been reportedly caused by storm surges and high winds in some Hinthada District villages because of the rains earlier this week.

More than 30 locals were evacuated to a monastery after a creek near Kwinkauktaung village in Ingapu Township breached its banks, inundating the surrounding land, according to a Kwinkauktaung villager.

Meteorologist Tun Lwin, the retired director-general of Burma’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, has urged those living in low-lying areas and places vulnerable to storm surges or landslides to move to safer locations as flooding is likely to continue this week in the Irrawaddy Delta.

As of Wednesday, authorities were taking steps to prevent dams on the Nga Wun River from bursting. The water level of the river near Ngathaingchaung subtownship has reached six inches above its hazard level of 27 feet, and the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology has announced that it could remain at that height for the next three days.