Heavy flooding in Myanmar hampers rescue efforts

Heavy flooding across Myanmar has hampered rescue efforts, as thousands are finding temporary shelter at monasteries. “Most of the country is flooded by now,” AFP quoted a government official as saying on condition of anonymity on Saturday. He added that all but one of Myanmar’s 14 provinces and regions were affected by the flash floods, rising waters and landslides caused by ongoing downpours in one of the poorest Asian country.

courtesy of Brendan Brady/IRIN

Brendan Brady/IRIN

Emergency efforts by authorities and local NGO’s were under way but they are “struggling to access flood-hit areas,” the official said. This is compounded further by the lack of infrastructure and transportation means to access hard hit areas. Myanmar national death rate is still recorded at 27 and there have been no updates due to disrupted communications. Local reports suggest the number is likely to go up.

The western Rakhine and Chin states are among the four worst affected areas. This include the Rakhine districts of Minbya, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw and Ann townships, where a total of 463 villages have been submerged, three have been washed away, and where 10 people are known to have died, he said. The state of Rakhine already hosts some 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, who live in uncovered make-shift coastal camps following deadly 2012 unrest between the Muslim group and extremist Buddhists.

The flooding situation in Rakhine will likely worsen the humanitarian condition for Rohingyas as the region is largely neglected by the Central government due to its political stand against the ethnic group.

Myanmar was also hit by severe flooding in late July 2013. It has been estimated that 25,000 people were evacuated after heavy rainfall brought floods to Karen, Mon and Rakhine states. 80 relief camps were set up for those displaced. Flooding continued into August in various areas of the country, including Rangoon, but especially in the border regions with Thailand. However, this year’s floods have so far destroyed at least 30,000 acres of farmland and damaged a further 73,000 according to a state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM) newspaper..

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