3,000 homeless as illness strikes

Nearly 100 cases of diarrhoea have been reported among survivors of last week’s earthquake in eastern Burma, as aid groups put the number of people made homeless at more than 3000.

In the days following the 6.8 magnitude quake, which has claimed up to 150 lives in Shan state, relief teams warned that victims were struggling to access clean water. Wells and water pipes in the Tarlay region had been damaged by the tremors, and World Vision said that high levels of sulphur were being found in water supplies.

The Myanmar Red Cross Society said on Wednesday that 3,152 have been left destitute, while some 18,000 in total are thought to have been affected.

World Vision has also said that around half the cases of diarrhoea were being treated by local authorities, adding that it had provided five water purification machines capable of generating 240 litres of clean water each hour, as well as water purification tablets.

A resident of Tachilek, which lies just south of the epicentre close to Tarlay, said that he had seen people vomiting at the temporary shelters he was providing aid to.

“The water is no good – there have been diarrhoea cases,” he told DVB. “But health groups are now in the area and preparing to set up water purifiers – they’ve warned people not to drink water from the wells, and the health department is putting purification [chemicals] in them.”

The epicentre of the earthquake was six miles beneath ground close to Tarlay, which lies only a few miles from Burma’s border with Thailand. Tremors were felt as far afield as Bangkok and Hanoi, where buildings were evacuated.

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