Flooding adds to Kachin state’s woes

Landslides and flooding have submerged houses and blocked roads in northern Burma’s Kachin state, which is already suffering from an outbreak of dengue fever.

Villages around the jade mining town of Hpakant have been affected by the flooding, which has followed several days of heavy rain. A Hpakant resident said that houses and a village hall in nearby Hsaidaung and Hpapyin villages were underwater, while the road connecting Hsaidaung to Hpakant was down.

“There were two roads [connecting the town and the village] and one was destroyed by the landslide – there is only a huge pond left now,” he said. “There is no exit for the water [from the pond] as some channels built to guide the flow of water were destroyed by the landslide.”

Several people died in flooding near Hpakant last year, which is home to lucrative jade mines frequented by Kachin locals who make a living from the precious stone. Hpakant residents expressed concern that the flooding would turn old mines in the area into potential danger zones.

Meanwhile, an outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever is spreading across Kachin state. The illness, common during monsoon season, is however said to be affecting children more than usual.

“Almost every household in the town gets sick, including my four grandchildren who had to have injections at the hospital,” said a man in Mogaung, central Kachin state. “Most victims are children. The outbreak is mostly via mosquitoes and the weather has been crazy – there has been rain and heat.”

He said that victims were forced to rely on mosquito coils imported from China for price of 500 kyat [US$0.50) per pack, while more remote regions with no medical clinics may have been affected worse.

Dengue fever has been sweeping other areas of Burma, with multiple deaths reported in Irrawaddy and Bago division. An outbreak has also been reported along the Thai-Burma border and refugees in the Mae La camp close to Mae Sot have been diagnosed.

Additional reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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