Myanmar landslide death toll hits 57

A photo from the Myanmar Fire Service Department showing rescue workers at a landslide-hit area in Paung township, Mon state, yesterday. A bulletin from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says more than 134,000 peopl
A photo from the Myanmar Fire Service Department showing rescue workers at a landslide-hit area in Paung township, Mon state, yesterday. A bulletin from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says more than 134,000 people in Myanmar have been affected by floods since last month. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tens of thousands evacuated as rain continues to batter country; Cambodia and Vietnam also hit by flooding

The death toll from a horrific landslide in southern Myanmar reached 57 yesterday as rain continued to pound the region and submerge villages.

Myanmar's coastal Mon state was among the worst-hit areas, with houses and a school washed away.

In nearby Cambodia's coastal Preah Sihanouk province, floods opened up a sinkhole on a highway over the weekend and left three people dead, the Khmer Times reported.

In Vietnam's Phu Quoc Island, also in the Gulf of Thailand, locals are picking up the pieces from floods that caused more than US$4 million (S$5.6 million) worth of damage and forced its international airport to close briefly last Friday, local media outlet VN Express said.

In Mon state's Paung township, where a mountainside loosened by continuous rainfall collapsed last Friday and buried over two dozen homes, the death toll continued climbing.

"We are still searching for the victims. As of this morning, we have found 57 bodies in total," Mr Zaw Moe Aung, a general administrative officer in Paung township told The Straits Times yesterday.

Mr Zin Min Ko, a deputy director in the General Administrative Department in Mon state, said 16,000 people have been displaced.

Apart from giving immediate aid, the government plans to support survivors with both their mental and physical rehabilitation, he told The Straits Times.

According to a bulletin put out by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies yesterday, more than 134,000 people in Myanmar have been affected by floods since last month. Among them are 86,000 affected by an earlier round of flooding who have since been able to return home.

NOT OVER YET

Our main worry is that we are still at the peak of the monsoon season, so the heavy rains are more than likely to continue.

MR KNUT OSTBY, United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar.

As of Sunday, over 48,000 people were sheltering in evacuation sites from floods in Ayeyarwaddy, Tanintha-ryi and Yangon regions, and Kayin, Bago, Mon states.

Locals are bracing themselves for more wet - and possibly dangerous - weather.

Myanmar's Department of Meteorology and Hydrology warned yesterday of a low-pressure area forming over the north-west Bay of Bengal, creating strong monsoon conditions over the Andaman Sea.

Mr Knut Ostby, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, told The Straits Times: "Our main worry is that we are still at the peak of the monsoon season, so the heavy rains are more than likely to continue. All the forecasts currently show more rain for the next few days across the region."

In Mon state, "the authorities have done an excellent job of moving people to evacuation sites, getting the injured to hospital, and they are providing food, cash for rice, and non-food items such as blankets, sleeping mats and other essentials", he said.

 
 

A UN-led inter-agency team will travel to Mon state today to assess how it can complement existing aid efforts, he added.

As clean water is essential, the UN Children's Fund is already providing jerry cans to store water, water purification supplies and hygiene kits, while the World Health Organisation is helping with water purification tablets, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and snake venom treatment because floodwaters increase the risk of snakebites.

The World Food Programme is also preparing to help with ready-to-eat meals as there might be a lack of cooking facilities, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2019, with the headline 'Myanmar landslide death toll hits 57'. Print Edition | Subscribe