Rescue workers search for bodies under debris and mud after a landslide in Mon state, Myanmar, August 10. © Thomson Reuters

Foods and rain-pressed landslide   are taking a heavy toll in Myanmar. Troops have been deployed to flood-hit parts of Myanmar on Sunday to help with relief efforts after rising waters left thousands stranded and the death toll from a landslide jumped to 52.

The landslide occurred in a village in Paung Township in Mon state on Friday. It is estimated that still another 41 are missing.

Floodwaters have submerged more than 4,000 houses in the southeastern Mon state and displaced more than 25,000 residents who have sought shelter in monasteries and pagodas, according to state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar.

Heavy rains pounded other parts of Mon, Karen and Kachin states, flooding roads, destroying bridges and forcing people to flee by boat.

Around 89,000 people have been displaced by floods in recent weeks, although many have since been able to return home, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Every year monsoon rains hammer Myanmar and other countries across Southeast Asia, submerging homes, displacing residents and triggering landslides.

Pictures from the area show residents swimming away or bundling their possessions onto small boats and rowing to higher ground.

This year’s deluge has tested the government’s ability to respond after a fatal landslide on Friday in southeastern Mon state was followed by heavy flooding that reached the roofs of houses and the tops of street signs in nearby towns.

“Three more dead bodies were found at 11:50 am. The total death toll has reached 51 people,” the Myanmar fire services department said on its Facebook page.

As the rainy season reaches its peak, the country’s armed forces are pitching in.

“Our regional military commands are working to help with the search and rescue process in disaster areas,” Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told AFP. “Helicopters will be used to supply food.”

The bulk of the effort is focused on hard-hit Mon state, which sits on the coast of the Andaman sea.

“This year is the worst,” a resident of Ye township told AFP.

“There are some casualties at nearby villages. But we can’t reach those villages yet,” said a rescue worker.

A report in The Thaiger said:

Thousands of people are stranded mostly in the flood-hit southern parts of the country.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology forecasts that water level in Shwegyin River in Shwegyin Township in Bago Region and Thanlwin River at Hpaan Township in Kayin State might rise further to dangerous level. Moreover, rain models suggest continuation of monsoon rain over the next three days in Mon and Tanintharyi areas.

In Mon state, floodwater reached the roofs of houses and treetops.

About two-thirds of the Mon state’s Ye township remained flooded, an administrator said, as drone footage showed only the tops of houses, tree branches and satellite dishes poking above the waters.

Families began to evacuate in the early hours Sunday, packing possessions into boats, rowing towards higher ground or swimming away.

Than Htay, a 40-year-old from Ye town, said the water rose to their waists around 02:00am and she and her family members started shouting for help. A passing boat heard their pleas and gave them a ride.

“That’s why we survived. We thought we were dead,” she said.

Another resident said this year’s flooding was the worst they had experienced.

The search for victims has continued though the rain has made the process more difficult.

“We are still working. We will continue searching in the coming days as well,” Paung administrator Zaw Moe Aung said.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies informed:

Seasonal monsoon has brought strong winds and heavy rains across Myanmar, further intensified by a depression over the Bay of Bengal, causing increased water levels in major rivers and floods in various states and regions.

More than 134,000 people have been affected by the floods since the beginning of July 2019. Approximately 86,413 people affected in the first round of flooding and formerly displaced in Kachin, Rakhine, Sagaing, Chin, Mandalay, and Magway have since been able to return to their homes.

As of 11 August 2019, 48,581 people are seeking shelter in evacuation sites due to floods over the last two days in Ayeyarwaddy, Kayin, Bago, Mon, Tanintharyi, and Yangon.

Water levels of the Moei River, on the Thailand-Myanmar border, are expected to drop by Thursday.

While the deep depression over the northwest Bay of Bengal has moved northwest towards India, the monsoon is persisting at moderate levels over the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.

Myanmar’s vice president, Henry Van Thio, visited landslide survivors in Paung village on Saturday and “spoke of his sorrow” while promising relief.

Climate scientists in 2015 ranked Myanmar at the top of a global list of nations hardest hit by extreme weather. That year more than 100 people died in floods that also displaced hundreds of thousands.

Every year monsoon rains hammer Myanmar and other countries across Southeast Asia, submerging homes, displacing residents and triggering landslides.


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