No Relief in Sight for Burma’s Flood Ravaged North

By Zarni Mann 27 July 2015

MANDALAY — Burma’s flood-ravaged northern regions are bracing for another deluge, after the Department of Meteorology warned of possible heavy rains due to a storm in the Bay of Bengal.

The announcement, issued by the department on Monday, warned that the storm was gaining strength and was expected to lead to torrential rain in several locations across the country.

“Within 24 hours, the upper Sagaing region, Pegu, Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions, and Shan, Chin, Arakan, Mon and Karen states will receive heavy rain for about three days,” the department said. “Locals living in mountainous and low-lying areas should beware of possible landslides and sudden rises in the water levels of rivers and streams.”

Though water levels have dramatically receded in many areas hit by flooding last week, locals remain displaced from their homes and in need of relief.

“What we need now is clean water, foods and medicine,” said Tin Tun, a resident of Kawlin in Sagaing Division. “We currently still stranded at the monastery as our homes are still underwater, while some other homes have been washed away.”

Locals said that government and private volunteers had been attempting to provide relief, but some villages in Sagaing still remain out of reach. Much of the area in the upper part of the division is still inundated, and thousands have taken refuge in monasteries and schools after evacuating their homes.

According to the locals, tens of thousands of crop fields have been flooded in Sagaing Division. Dams and dykes located in the region are reportedly still overflowing, while roads remain blocked and a length of the Mandalay-Myitkyina rail line has washed away.

“Recently, the Thaphanseik Dam in Kantbalu Township overflowed so the authorities opened all the gates to reduce the water. The rain keeps pouring. We who live in low-lying areas are worrying and some have even left,” said Kyaw Khin, a resident of Khin-U Township.

In Mandalay’s Thabeikkyin Township, a creek broke its banks and washed out some homes, killing at least eight locals with five still missing.

A bridge in the Shan State town of Hsipaw collapsed under the weight of a strong current on Saturday, killing three, wounding two and leaving three others missing. Further south in Namsang, a Sunday landslide destroyed at least 10 homes and displaced dozens of locals.

To the west, dozens of homes were inundated in Kalaw, and volunteers have been distributing food and medicine to those displaced by the rains.

Flooding was also reported in Kachin State townships of Hpakant and Moekaung, as well as the Mandalay towns of Mogok and Tagaung.