Yangon Dumpsite Blaze Continues to Fill Local Hospital, Clinics

By The Irrawaddy 25 April 2018

YANGON — Sixteen people have been admitted at the Hlaing Tharyar General Hospital for smoke inhalation as of Tuesday after breathing in noxious smoke and fumes from a fire at Yangon’s largest dumpsite, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

The fire, in Hlaing Tharyar Township, on Yangon’s western outskirts, has been burning since Saturday and affected several townships across the city. The foul-smelling smoke reached downtown Yangon on Tuesday.

A hospital superintendent on Tuesday said three of the 16 admitted patients have been released. State media meanwhile reported that more than 60 people who live near the dump have also been treated at temporary clinics.

Ko Myat Min Thu, a Yangon Region lawmaker representing Hlaing Tharyar, said Ward 20 has been the worst affected and that the regional health department began taking air pollution readings on Tuesday.

Volunteer rescue teams have reported via Facebook that firemen battling the blaze have also been treated for respiratory problems and minor injuries.

The dump was established 17 years ago and has become the largest trash disposal site in Yangon. The Myanmar Fire Services Department said 100 acres of it were now burning and that more than 100 firemen were trying to contain the flames.

A statement from the Health Ministry on Wednesday said smoke from the fire has reached at least seven townships in the east, west and north of Yangon and was causing health problems.

The ministry said the symptoms of inhaling smoke and carbon monoxide include coughing, eye irritation, headaches, confusion, breathing difficulty, vomiting and chest pain and in extreme cases could cause death. It said people with heart, respiratory and lung diseases were more vulnerable, along with children, pregnant women and the elderly.