Mud Volcano Eruption Damages Farmland in Kyaukphyu

By Sanay Lin 5 September 2014

RANGOON — A mud volcano eruption in western Burma’s Arakan State has damaged more than 200 acres of farmland in Kyaukphyu Township, according to locals.

The mud volcano near Yaukchaung Village began spewing mud on Aug. 31, immediately inundating 30 acres of surrounding farmland. The mud has since flowed into another 170 acres of land, mostly rice paddy, said Aung Saw Thein, a local of Kyaukphyu, which is on Ramree Island.

“We still don’t know the exact acreage of farmland affected by the volcano eruption,” said Aung Saw Thein.

“The farms of 16 farmers were directly flooded by mud. Then the mud flew into other farms with the rain. Rice plants were planted two months ago there [and were destroyed]. But there was no damage to humans and animals,” he said.

On both Ramree Island and the adjacent Manaung Island, mud volcanoes are common, according to geologist Soe Thura Tun, who conducted research there two years ago.

He said the mud volcanoes on the islands are different from those in other parts of Burma as they are shallower in depth and sometimes erupt in flames as they expel natural gas. Geological formations in the area suggest that mud volcanoes were once even more common there, he said.

“Volcano eruptions here do not cause serious damage, and only farmland is destroyed by these volcano eruptions,” said Soe Thura Tun.

“They erupt once every two or three years, but there is no regularity to their eruption. Some volcanoes have already gone extinct, according to our research.”

Arakan State government officials visited Yaukchaung Village on Thursday and said they would arrange for replanting of the damaged crops.

However, many more farms are being affected by the mud as continuing rain carries it farther afield, said resident Kyaw Win.

“Not only Yaukchaung Village was affected. Farms and pasture in Simaw and Kyettel villages were also damaged by muddy water,” he said.

“Muddy water is still flowing into farms and the paddy in all those farms will be dead. We have three other mud volcanoes in the south west of the village.”