Pegu and Mon States Hit by Severe Flooding

By Yen Saning 6 August 2014

RANGOON — Heavy downpours in recent days have caused severe flooding in Pegu and Mon states, where hundreds of residents have been forced to flee their homes and traffic has been hindered by inundated roads, local residents and officials said on Wednesday.

Karen state, Irrawaddy and Rangoon divisions have reportedly been affected small-scale flooding.

A Department of Hydrology official said the Pegu, Sittaung and Salween rivers had risen above danger levels since Tuesday and warned that levels were likely to remain dangerously high until Friday and could cause further flooding in Pegu, Mon and Karen states.

The Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers have seen no rapid rise in water levels so far, according to officials.

Pegu River levels have risen sharply in recent days and flooding has occurred in Pegu, said Ye Min, a local reporter based in the riverside town, adding that parts of the highway connecting Pegu with Rangoon to south and Naypyidaw to the north were flooded with about two feet of water.

Flood levels had reached so high in Pegu town’s Kyun Thar Ya quarter that about 20 houses on stilts had been flooded and dozens more were at immediate risk, he said, adding that some 1,000 residents were forced to leave their homes and take shelter at several local monasteries.

Myo Khaing, a Lower House MP from Pegu Division’s Kawa Township, said the Pegu River broke its banks last week, inundating at least half a dozen villages in Pyay, Wat Htee Kan and Kawa townships and causing hundreds of villagers to seek shelter in local monasteries.

“There has been flooding since about a week ago. Water reached till the floors of home and some people went to stay at the monastery,” he said. “We haven’t heard of any other townships [in Pegu] that are as badly affected as us.”

Thiha, a resident of Tanatpin, located southeast of Pegu, said flooding had severely affected the town. “Water has reached our rice mills. The whole Tanatpin town is flooded, including surrounding farms,” he said.

“The water has risen with another six inches compared to yesterday. Though not all houses are completely inundated with water, some have been, and people there had to stay in the monastery.

An Irrawaddy photographer in Pegu town said he observed many residents fleeing their homes by boat, adding that the Myanmar Red Cross had arrived in the town to begin aid deliveries to the displaced families.

A Mon State official, who declined to be named, said the northern half of state had been hit by severe floods that had inundated roads, hampering traffic from Mon State to Rangoon and Pegu.

“We have formed committees in every township to help and provide rescue support in emergency cases. Currently, the water is still rising on the highway,” he said, adding that five feet of water covered the road between Thaton and Moulmein at mile stones 131 to 139.

Between 30 and 40 cars were trapped in the floods, the official said.

Staff at the offices of Yaun Ni Tun and Talamon bus companies in Rangoon said bus services to Mon State had been disrupted and were temporarily suspended on Tuesday.

Tun Lwin, a well-known independent meteorologist, said in a daily forecast on his Facebook page on Wednesday that heavy rains will continue in many of the already flooded areas, as well as in northern Arakan State, southern Chin State and southwestern Magwe Division.

Two low-lying villages in Hlegu Township, located on the eastern outskirts of Rangoon, have suffered from severe flooding for about two weeks. Several thousand residents in Bar Lar and Ngwe Nant Thar villages have struggled to cope with the waters, which have risen to just below the floors of the wooden houses on stilts.

Kay Wonn Tha, the abbot of the Buddhist monastery in Bar Lar Village, said residents were receiving some food support, but lacked access to clean water.

Local farmer Maung Maung said his rice crop had been destroyed, adding, “There has been 15 days of flooding. Our farm are under water just before we have planted that the rice are destroyed, we have to plant our rice again.”

Additional reporting by May Sitt Paing.