UN warns Myan­mar flood toll to in­crease as rains lash re­gion


The toll from flash floods and land­slides in Myan­mar af­ter days of tor­ren­tial rain is likely to rise, the U.N. warned Sun­day, as mon­soon down­pours brought mis­ery to thou­sands across the re­gion.

At least 27 peo­ple have been killed and more than 150,000 af­fected by flood­ing in Myan­mar in re­cent days, with the gov­ern­ment declar­ing the four worst-hit ar­eas in cen­tral and western Myan­mar as “na­tional dis­as­ter-af­fected re­gions.”

Scores have also per­ished in In­dia, Nepal, Pak­istan and Viet­nam fol­low­ing floods and land­slides trig­gered by heavy sea­sonal rains.

Res­cue work in Myan­mar has been ham­pered by con­tin­ued down­pours and the in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity of many of the re­mote re­gions bat­tered by the deluges.

In Kalay, one of the worst-hit towns in the coun­try’s north­west Sa­gaing re­gion, flood­wa­ters on Sun­day reached the roofs of houses and above the height of some co­conut trees, an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher at the scene said.

Vast tracts of farm­land had been swal­lowed up by the flood­wa­ters, turn­ing a nor­mally fer­tile flat val­ley into an ex­pan­sive lake.

An of­fi­cial at Myan­mar’s Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment Depart­ment who asked not to be named told AFP that at least 166,000 peo­ple have now been af­fected by the floods.

But the United Na­tions Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs ( OCHA) said the real fig­ure was likely to be “sig­nif­i­cantly higher” be­cause many ar­eas “have still not been reached or re­ported on by as­sess­ment teams.”

OCHA said the of­fi­cial death toll of 27 was also likely an un­der­es­ti­mate.

“As fur­ther in­for­ma­tion be­comes avail­able, this fig­ure is also ex­pected to in­crease,” the state­ment warned.

Re­gional Del­uge

Sea­sonal mon­soon rains have also brought death and de­struc­tion to other Asian na­tions.

About 20 peo­ple were feared dead af­ter a hill col­lapsed onto a vil­lage in In­dia’s north­east­ern state of Ma­nipur on Satur­day fol­low­ing in­ces­sant rain, a lo­cal mag­is­trate said.

Res­cuers were Sun­day claw­ing through mud and de­bris search­ing for bod­ies as well as sur­vivors of the ac­ci­dent in the re­mote vil­lage in Chandel dis­trict bor­der­ing Myan­mar.

“So far we have re­ports of 20 peo­ple killed when a hillock caved and trapped the vil­lagers,” mag- is­trate Memi Mary told AFP by tele­phone from Chandel town.

Tor­ren­tial rain has trig­gered flood­ing else­where in In­dia in­clud­ing in the worst-hit western state of Gu­jarat where the death toll has hit 53.

In West Ben­gal some 42 peo­ple have been killed in the last week from flood­ing, while some 250,000 homes have been de­stroyed, state dis­as­ter man­age­ment min­is­ter Javed Ah­mad Khan said.

Res­cuers in Viet­nam were bat­tling toxic mud­slides from flood­hit coal mines in the north­ern province of Quang Ninh, home to the UNESCO-listed Ha­long Bay tourist site.

Sev­en­teen peo­ple have been killed in re­cent flood­ing, in­clud­ing two fam­i­lies swal­lowed up by the toxic mud.

“In one sec­ond, mud and rock smashed into my house. We were lucky to es­cape with our daugh­ter,” To Thi Huyen, a 37-year-old pri­mary school teacher, told AFP.

In­un­da­tions have also hit Pak­istan with 109 killed and al­most 700,000 af­fected by floods in the last two weeks, while 36 peo­ple have per­ished in land­slides in Nepal.

(Left) A res­i­dent makes his way through flood­wa­ters in Kalay town­ship in the Sa­gaing re­gion, Up­per Myan­mar, Satur­day, Aug. 1.

(Right) Kalay town­ship in Sa­gaing re­gion is seen flooded, Sun­day, Aug. 2.


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