Myanmar evacuates thousands affected by floods

More than one million people 'critically affected' as worst flooding in decades hits Myanmar

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Authorities in Myanmar have evacuated at least 7,000 people, in Chin state on Wednesday after mudslides and torrential rain destroyed around 375 houses, during the worst floods to hit the country in decades.

The impoverished Chin state's Finance Minister Nan Zamon told Reuters that people were moved to safe areas, as 900 houses were still in danger of being damaged by landslides. They were taken to temporary shelters at government buildings and churches.

"We are carrying out the evacuation now, giving priority to people from the houses that are completely damaged. As the danger of landslides can grow bigger, we are trying to find a safer place for the people," he said.

The Chin state, one of the poorest and least-developed regions of Myanmar, was declared a disaster zone with three other areas by the national government.

The United States said at least 103 people have been killed and more than one million "critically affected" by the flooding, which is described as the worst natural disaster to hit Myanmar since Cyclone Nargis killed nearly 140,000 people in May 2008.

China, India and Australia have sent relief supplies, while the European Union and United States pledged funds for the relief effort after Myanmar appealed for international help.

Rakhine state, home to mostly Muslim minority Rohingya people, was hit the worst by the flash floods and media reports said that thousands of people took refuge in monasteries, but Rohingya Muslims were turned away from some shelters by security forces. The water level in the Rakhine state reached as high as 4.5 metres. 

Nearly 525,000 acres of farmland, almost the size of Luxembourg, have been affected by the floods and thousands of acres of paddy fields are damaged, according to officials.

Myanmar's president has declared a state of emergency in four states last week and officials warn that  more rain is expected throughout the country from August 15 to 19.

Other than Myanmar, monsoon floods have affected more than 12 million people across Pakistan, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh where more than 400 people were killed.


TRTWorld and agencies