Myanmar landslide kills at least 34, many still missing

An excavator removing damaged structures yesterday after a landslide in Paung, Mon state.
An excavator removing damaged structures yesterday after a landslide in Paung, Mon state.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAWLAMYINE (MYANMAR) • The death toll from a landslide triggered by monsoon rains in eastern Myanmar rose to at least 34, an official said yesterday, as emergency workers continued a desperate search through thick mud for scores more feared missing.

A huge brown gash on the hillside marked where the deluge of mud flooded onto Ye Pyar Kone village in Mon state on Friday, wiping out 16 homes.

Search-and-rescue teams worked through the night with excavators and their bare hands trying to find survivors and recover bodies from the deep sludge, continuing throughout the next day.

"We found 34 dead, and the search for dead bodies is still ongoing," local administrator Myo Min Tun said. So far, 47 people have been left injured while officials believe that more than 80 people could still be missing.

Aerial pictures showed broken remnants of rooftops and other debris from the houses strewn next to trucks knocked over by the force of the mudslide.

The village's hillside temple was left inundated, with the pagoda's golden spire peeking out from beneath the mud.

Ms Htay Htay Win, 32, said that two of her daughters and five other relatives had not been found. She survived only because she had left her home minutes earlier to go look at the flooding nearby.

"I heard a huge noise and turned around to see my home being hit by the mud," she said, crying.

RESCUED SOME, BUT NOT OTHERS

I dragged a woman and two children from a car but I could not reach two other people, so I had to leave them.

MR TIN HTAY, who described how he and his family managed to escape when the landslide hit his house.

Rescue workers spent yesterday morning loading bodies wrapped in plastic onto the back of flatbed trucks as worried villagers looked on.

 

Mr Tin Htay described how he and his family managed to escape when the landslide hit his house, and his efforts to rescue others trapped by the mud.

"I dragged a woman and two children from a car but I could not reach two other people, so I had to leave them," the 30-year-old said.

In the town of Shwegyin in eastern Bago region, residents waded out in waist-deep waters or waited to be rescued by boat after the Sittaung river burst its banks, swallowing entire homes.

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 11, 2019, with the headline 'Myanmar landslide kills at least 34, many still missing'. Print Edition | Subscribe