Monsoon rains trigger landslides, floods in Myanmar

Workers trying to prevent a Buddha statue from slipping off a cliff after a landslide damaged the hilltop Kyeik Than Lan pagoda in Mawlamyine, in Myanmar's Mon state, yesterday.
Workers trying to prevent a Buddha statue from slipping off a cliff after a landslide damaged the hilltop Kyeik Than Lan pagoda in Mawlamyine, in Myanmar's Mon state, yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAWLAMYINE (Myanmar) • Flooding in southern Myanmar caused a landslide at a famed Buddhist pagoda, submerged homes and displaced hundreds of people as monsoon rains battered the country.

Several parts of Myanmar's southern Mon state were facing flash floods due to heavy rain since the weekend, with no relief in sight, according to a report in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar yesterday.

Rain triggered a landslide that damaged the hilltop Kyeik Than Lan pagoda, whose golden stupa towers over the state capital Mawlamyine.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondents yesterday saw workers helping to relocate Buddha statues and novice monks helping to clean up debris at the religious site after a wedge of hillside slipped away.

Local resident Bo Win, who was helping with the flood response, told AFP that around 1,000 people were sheltering in several sites around Mawlamyine.

"This is the worst flood in the state that I have ever seen," said Mr Nyan Soe, another local resident.

About 150 residents farther south of Mawlamyine were evacuated to a government school after dozens of homes and bridges were submerged, while a monastery was destroyed across the river from the city, the New Light reported.

So far, no casualties have been reported in the state, but rain continue to pound swathes of the country.

Last week, five people were killed after monsoon rains triggered a landslide in Mogok, a northern Myanmar town famed for its ruby mines.

Myanmar is one of several countries in the region to face severe yearly flooding.

In 2015, it topped a global list compiled by climate scientists of countries hardest hit by extreme weather.

That year, more than 100 people died in floodwaters that also displaced hundreds of thousands across the country.

Some 138,000 people died in 2008 when Cyclone Nargis lashed vast stretches of Myanmar's coast.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2018, with the headline 'Monsoon rains trigger landslides, floods in Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe