Burma floods leave trail of devastation

Nearly 200 people are missing or dead and thousands more affected by heavy floods in central Burma’s Magwe division, as the deluge of uncharacteristic monsoon rains continue to wage destruction across Southeast Asia.

Reports claim a flash flood swept away around 50 homes in Pakkoku yesterday; local police have confirmed that 38 bodies have been recovered from the river, the majority women. Around 150 are still missing. Up to 300 huts in a slum on the edge of town were also destroyed. Images taken yesterday show that the Shwechaung bridge, close to Pakkoku, has collapsed.

More than 30 villages in Seikphyu township, around 50 miles south of Pakkoku, have also been affected by floods, fuelled by heavy rains that caused the nearby Yaw Creek to burst its banks.

Locals there had little warning about the impeding disaster: one Seikphyu resident told DVB that water levels in the creek rose around 2am on Wednesday morning, uprooting trees and forcing thousands to flee.

“Even two-story buildings are inundated up to the roof,” said another man in the nearby Chaungmagyi village tract. “I moved all my food stocks and belongings to the upper floor in my house but they’ve all been swamped.”

He said that although people are struggling to find shelter, no fatalities have yet been reported in Chaungmagyi. Water levels have now dropped from eight feet to two feet, he added.

Elsewhere the picture is similarly bleak. In the region around Magwe division’s Sinbyugyun town, some 20 villages were flooded after the Lin Zin dam north of the town broke. Swathes of farmland have been submerged.

Neighbouring Thailand is currently experiencing its worst floods in more than 50 years. Close to 350 have been confirmed dead and many more are missing, as the floodwaters close in on Bangkok.

During at least three months this year, rainfall was nearly twice the 30 year average. Areas of eastern Burma have also experienced landslides as a result of torrential rains.

Additional reporting by Aye Nai

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