Myan­mar res­cuers race to flood zones

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Res­cuers raced Mon­day to help tens of thou­sands stranded by rooftop-high floods in Myan­mar, as the U.N. warned that swollen rivers threaten more ar­eas and large swathes of Asia were hit by deadly mon­soon rains.

Author­i­ties in Myan­mar said the death toll from flash floods and land­slides caused by weeks of un­re­lent­ing rain rose to 46, with some 200,000 af­fected and vil­lagers in re­mote ar­eas forced to use ca­noes and makeshift rafts.

Hun­dreds have also per­ished in re­cent days in In­dia, Nepal, Pak­istan and Viet­nam fol­low­ing floods and land­slides trig­gered by a belt of heavy sea­sonal rains.

Ac­cess to many towns in re­mote north­ern and western Myan­mar has been sev­ered and re­lief work­ers fear it could be days be­fore the true ex­tent of the dis­as­ter emerges.

“Lo­gis­tics are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. As­sess­ment teams are hav­ing a hard time reach­ing af­fected ar­eas,” said Pierre Peron, spokesman for the United Na­tions Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs.

The U.N. was “very con­cerned” by the sit­u­a­tion, he said, adding that while flood­ing had be­gun to re­cede in some places, rivers were burst­ing their banks and in­un­dat­ing new ar­eas.

Re­lent­less down­pours were last week ex­ac­er­bated by Cy­clone Komen, which drove fierce winds and heavy rain across the western part of the coun­try.

Res­i­dents near Kalay, a town in the im­pov­er­ished north­west­ern Sa­gaing re­gion that re­mains vir­tu­ally en­cir­cled by deep wa­ter, de­scribed how their homes were swal­lowed by the del­uge.

“There was no warn­ing ... we thought it was nor­mal (sea­sonal flood­ing),” Aye Myat Su, 30, told AFP from a monastery be­ing used as a tem­po­rary shel­ter in Kalay.

“But within a few hours, the whole house was un­der­wa­ter. My hus­band had to get onto the roof as there was no way out.”

An AFP pho­tog­ra­pher in the area said flood­wa­ters re­mained high on Mon­day, with many peo­ple mak­ing their way to safety in rafts cob­bled to­gether from old tires, sal­vaged wood and large plas­tic bot­tles.

AP

A vil­lager makes his way through flood wa­ters in Min San vil­lage, lo­cated in Pwint­byu town­ship, Minbu, in Myan­mar on Mon­day, Aug. 3.

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