Wracked by rain: Myanmar

UN warns death toll will rise

Rescue workers helping farmers to flee flooded areas with their cattle near the town of Thayet in the Magway region.
Rescue workers helping farmers to flee flooded areas with their cattle near the town of Thayet in the Magway region.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

YANGON • The toll from flash floods and landslides in Myanmar after days of heavy rain is likely to rise, the United Nations warned yesterday, as monsoon downpours brought misery to thousands across the region.

At least 27 people have been killed and more than 150,000 affected by flooding in Myanmar in recent days, with the government declaring the four worst-hit areas in central and western Myanmar as "national disaster-affected regions".

Rescue work in Myanmar has been hampered by continued downpours and the inaccessibility of many of the remote regions.

In Kalay, one of the worst-hit towns in the country's north-west Sagaing region, flood waters yesterday reached the roofs of houses and above the height of some coconut trees.

An official at Myanmar's Relief and Resettlement Department, who asked not to be named, told AFP that at least 166,000 people have now been affected by the floods.

But the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the real figure was likely to be "significantly higher" because many areas "have still not been reached or reported on by assessment teams".

OCHA said the official death toll of 27 was likely an underestimate. "As further information becomes available, this figure is expected to increase," the statement warned.

The remote and impoverished western states of Chin and Rakhine have also been badly-hit. The Myanmar Red Cross Society said 300 homes in Rakhine had been destroyed or damaged, with around 1,500 people evacuated to shelters.

"The figures are expected to increase in the coming days as Red Cross assessment teams access remote areas of Rakhine affected by the flooding," agency head Maung Maung Khin said in a statement released yesterday.

Rakhine already hosts some 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, who live in exposed makeshift camps following deadly unrest in 2012 between the minority group and Buddhists.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, more than 100 people have died and almost 700,000 were affected by floods in the last two weeks, while 36 people have perished in landslides in Nepal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline 'UN warns death toll will rise Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe