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A palace owned by the family of one of Shan State’s former hereditary rulers was among the casualties of the latest round of rough weather to hit large parts of Burma this weekend.
The Pinlaung Palace in southern Shan State suffered extensive damage due to strong winds and heavy rains on Sunday, according to Sao Mauk Kham Hseng, the son of the late Saopha of Pinlaung.
“Rain clouds started descending around 6 in the evening on Sunday and we managed to remove important artifacts and Buddha statues from the building. There was heavy rain and hail for more than an hour, causing the west wing of the old palace to collapse,” Sao Mauk Kham Hseng told DVB.
The palace had been cared for by the late Saopha’s family but has not seen any maintenance work in recent years due to financial difficulties.
The Saophas of Pinlaung ruled the area for 16 generations before they relinquished their titles in 1959. The last Saopha, Siripyanchi Sao Moe Kyaw, was jailed in 1962 along with the rulers of other Shan State principalities when the military seized power in a coup.
Sunday’s wet and windy weather — which followed even more severe conditions a week earlier — also damaged and destroyed homes in Naypyidaw and across Mandalay and Pegu divisions, as well as in other parts of Shan State.
Residents of Mandalay’s Wundwin Township said strong winds accompanied by heavy rain began around 3 pm on 1 May and left over 1,000 local homes and 17 schools damaged.
“According to our information so far, 17 schools in the area had their roofs blown off — the total cost of damage is estimated at around 92.3 million kyat [US$80,000). Twenty-eight houses were completely knocked down and 1,032 suffered extensive damage to their roofs,” said National League for Democracy MP Soe Min Htet, who represents the area in parliament.
He said three Buddhist monasteries in the area also collapsed and 13 suffered exterior damage.
In Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city, the severe weather toppled trees and power poles, while in Yamethin, some 216 km south of Mandalay, one person was killed and 11 others injured.
Meanwhile, whirlwinds that struck northern Pegu Division’s Taungoo Township at around 6pm on Sunday lifted roofs off houses, knocked down trees and power poles, and damaged three new facilities under construction at the University of Taungoo.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is providing financial and other necessary aid to the victims, according to union minister Win Myat Aye.