Toll dis­placed by flood­ing nears 100,000

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - KYAW KO KO kyawkoko@mm­ MYINT KAY THI my­in­tkaythi@mm­

Res­i­dents in Sa­gaing, Magwe, Man­dalay, Aye­yarwady and Bago re­gions, along with Kachin State, have been re­lo­cated, while of­fi­cials warn the mon­soon re­mains strong.

NEARLY 100,000 peo­ple across five re­gions and one state have been re­lo­cated due to flood­ing, ac­cord­ing to data from the Depart­ment of Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment cov­er­ing the pe­riod from the last week of July to yes­ter­day.

Res­i­dents in Sa­gaing, Magwe, Man­dalay, Aye­yarwady and Bago re­gions, along with Kachin State, have been im­pacted, with Sa­gaing, Magwe and Man­dalay the worst-af­fected re­gions, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment.

A to­tal of 55,336 peo­ple from 12,891 house­holds in Magwe Re­gion have been moved to safer ground, while flood­wa­ters in Man­dalay Re­gion led to the re­lo­ca­tion of 25,040 peo­ple from 4974 house­holds. In Sa­gaing Re­gion, nine town­ships have been af­fected by high wa­ters, prompt­ing the evac­u­a­tion of 13,040 peo­ple from 2706 house­holds.

Nearly 5000 peo­ple were also evac­u­ated across Aye­yarwady and Bago re­gions, and Kachin State.

While pop­u­la­tions liv­ing in lower Myan­mar have fared bet­ter, that could change as wa­ter lev­els on rivers upcountry re­main above their warn­ing lev­els and a low-pres­sure area per­sists over the Bay of Ben­gal, likely bring­ing more heavy rains in the com­ing days.

U Kyaw Lwin Oo, di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Hy­drol­ogy, said the swelling rivers in up­per Myan­mar come as the coun­try en­ters what could be the peak month of the mon­soon sea­son.

“The mon­soon tends to be strong in Au­gust. Cur­rently, the strength of the mon­soon is very strong due to the LPA [low-pres­sure area]. Myan­mar’s coastal ar­eas and the lower part of Myan­mar can ex­pect iso­lated heavy rain,” he said, warn­ing down­stream res­i­dents to be pre­pared for po­ten­tial flood­ing.

Driv­ing most of the dis­place­ment are the swollen Chind­win and Aye­yarwady rivers. The lat­ter’s wa­ter level at a mea­sur­ing post in Man­dalay was recorded on Au­gust 1 at its high­est point since 2004. At 1325 cen­time­tres (43.5 feet), the Au­gust 1 read­ing was well above the 1260cm mark des­ig­nated as the river’s warn­ing level.

In Man­dalay Re­gion’s Amara­pura town­ship, 12,496 peo­ple and 3351 houses were tal­lied as flood vic­tims by the Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment. Au­thor­i­ties on Au­gust 1 banned peo­ple from walk­ing on the iconic teak U Bein Bridge as the wa­ters of Taungthaman Lake rose above its boards at points. Mean­while, the Depart­ment of Ar­chae­ol­ogy and Na­tional Mu­seum an­nounced yes­ter­day that vis­its to the in­un­dated Inwa old city, a pop­u­lar tourist draw, were pro­hib­ited in­def­i­nitely.

U Tin Maung Win, an Amyotha Hlut­taw MP rep­re­sent­ing the af­fected town­ships of Mawlaik and Paung­byin (NLD; Sa­gaing 2), com­pared the re­cently ris­ing wa­ters to wide­spread flood­ing across much of Myan­mar at this time last year.

“The flow rate of the wa­ter is slower than last year’s flood­ing. With the cur­rent flood­ing, the wa­ter has in­creased grad­u­ally and also the fall­ing rate of the wa­ter level is slow. Res­i­dents are hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ties with trans­porta­tion and liveli­hoods due to the flood­wa­ters,” he said, adding that flood­wa­ters had reached his home in Mawlaik town­ship.

U Aung Thaung Shwe, deputy di­rec­tor of the Myan­mar Red Cross So­ci­ety, said this year’s flood­ing was not yet as bad as in 2015. He urged peo­ple to be on alert and heed any early warn­ing ad­vi­sories put out by the gov­ern­ment.

The di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment, U Than Htut Swe, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment was pro­vid­ing three days of ba­sic ra­tions to those dis­placed by flood­ing in Man­dalay, but he called on civil so­ci­ety groups and char­i­ta­ble as­so­ci­a­tions to lend their sup­port through ad­di­tional pro­vi­sions.

Man­dalay Re­gion Chief Min­is­ter U Zaw Myint Maung sought to as­sure the re­gion’s res­i­dents that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was han­dling the ris­ing wa­ters.

“Ev­ery day we are sent the amount of rain­fall, the amount of wa­ter in the dams and the amount the wa­ter level is above the dan­ger mark,” he said. “We also es­ti­mate which ar­eas might be flooded … We have also ar­ranged speed­boats to res­cue in cases of emer­gency. We ar­range for health­care [that might be needed] due to the con­se­quences of flood­ing.”

The chief min­is­ter added, how­ever, “We are a bit wor­ried be­cause the wa­ter level in the river is still in­creas­ing.”

– Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han

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