Flood victims in need of drinking water

Floodwaters in Mandalay town are now subsiding but relief workers say that victims are still in need of drinking water and food supplies.

Water levels reached a record high last week, state media in Burma said. Up to 2000 people have since been hospitalised in Mandalay, in central Burma, where the flooding was worst. Many are also now homeless, while around 10 deaths have been reported.

“The water level has gone down a lot but it is still as high as man in some lowland areas,” said Ko Gyi, an organising committee member of National League for Democracy (NLD), which has been handing out food for flood victims.

“We are handing out food parcels at the [victims’] doors. Though the flood is subsiding, people are in need of fresh, clean water for drinking.”

He added that monks had been involved in the relief effort alongside local aid groups. But victims were “in turmoil” yesterday evening after it was announced via loudspeakers that flood gates at Kywese Kan Dam, in Mandalay’s Pyigyitagon township, would be opened, Ko Gyi said.

Swathes of farmland in southern Irrawaddy division and western Arakan state have also been hit by heavy flooding, some of the worst to have affected Burma in recent years. It follows heavy flooding in August in Bago division. Farmers are concerned that rice paddy, which is due for harvesting, will be ruined.

“The water-level was quite high the other day,” said a farmer in the Irrawaddy delta’s Bogale township. “In Bogale wards six and seven, people had to move their beds upstairs. In our villages, those who grow the high yielding rice are facing problems as the plants were flooded.”

Because of the late arrival of rainy season this year, many farmers had opted for the high yielding strains of rice, which invariably have a shorter lifespan. The Bogale farmer said that “thousands” of nearby acres of land had been taken up with the strain.

A local in Irrawaddy division’s Ngapudaw township said however that although damage to crops had so far been minimal, “we will find out when we make the produce”. He said that farmers were predicting a loss in output because of the floods, which were caused by “unnaturally” high rainfall.

Additional reporting by Naw Noreen

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