Heavy rains over the past week have caused widespread flooding in western, eastern and southern Burma, with tens of thousands of people thought to have been affected.
Victims of the flooding in Pegu town in eastern Burma are sheltering in monasteries and community centres. Around one-third of the town, whose population numbers around 220,000, is estimated to have been affected by rising water levels in nearby rivers.
The Weekly Eleven news journal inside Burma said recently that water levels on the Chindwin River, Pegu River, Ngawun River and Thanlwin River had all risen above levels considered dangerous.
“Families… are leaving their homes and moving into monasteries on higher grounds,” a Pegu resident said. “They are being handed food parcels by [local sympathisers]. It’s not as if proper relief centres are being opened – just an improvised effort organised by local influential figures.”
He said that each ward is home to up to 3000 people, meaning a significant proportion of the town’s population may have been forced from their homes. Nearby farmland has also been flooded, potentially triggering disaster for farmers.
Burma was hit by severe flooding in August last year, which also saw 2000 people hospitalised in Mandalay and a number of people killed.
Further east in Karen state, water levels on the Salween River have dramatically risen, causing flooding in three wards in Hpa-an town. A local said that 100 people have so far been affected, and were being placed in makeshift shelters in nearby schools, but added that up to 500 people may eventually be forced from their homes.
Widespread flooding has also been reported in western Burma’s Arakan state and Irrawaddy division in the south, where tens of thousands of acres of farmland are underwater.
Meanwhile, the fallout from days of heavy rain in Magwe division has been compounded by the opening of floodgates by local authorities, submerging acres of farmland.