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Houses and farms in Yawnghwe, Shan State, were devastated by a whirlwind hurling hailstones “the size of fists” on 17 April. More than 150 homes were damaged by the freak weather event in Yawnghwe, near the popular tourist destination Inle Lake.
Win Myint, the Shan State government parliamentary representative for the Inntha ethnic group, said around a dozen villages were rocked by the 17 April whirlwind, which he described as the strongest of its kind in 50 years. He said the storm damaged over 150 homes in total, 30 of which were completely destroyed, and that 130 acres of farms and plantations have been severely damaged.
“The whirlwind was accompanied by hailstones ranging from the size of a pebble to as big as a fist. It was so strong. We have not experienced something like this in about 50-60 years,” said Win Myint, who confirmed the worst of the damage was suffered by residents of the Thale-U village tract, east of Inle Lake.
In Thale-U, 104 houses were damaged or destroyed. In villages on the western side of the lake, such as Kyungyi village-tract and Nanthe and Eaindauntgyi villages, around 50 houses were impacted.
Two local schools and a monastery building as well as over 80 acres of tomato plantation, 15 acres of peanut and 60 acres of summer paddy farms were also destroyed by the wind and hail.
Those affected were provided an emergency stipend of 30,000 kyats (US$30) by the Shan State government. The state’s Agricultural and Land Records Department has pledged to compile a list of damage and provide necessary assistance for the farms destroyed.
One Thale-U villager said another anomalous storm hit Innma village in the area on 20 April and flattened 11 of the 15 homes in the village. He said the government has yet to provide any help for the victims and that the 30,000 kyats provided to those affected by the earlier incident is nowhere near enough to help people to get back on their feet.
“I am grateful for the 30,000 kyats, but even building a bamboo hut nowadays costs around 600,000-700,000 kyats – we can only hope for assistance from sympathisers,” said the villager.