MAWLAMYINE (Myanmar) • Troops were deployed to flood-hit areas in Myanmar yesterday to help with relief efforts after the death toll from a deadly landslide jumped to 51.
Every year, monsoon rains hammer Myanmar and other countries across South-east Asia, submerging homes, displacing thousands and triggering landslides. But the disaster last Friday in south-eastern Mon state was the worst in recent memory. Hundreds of emergency response workers were still pulling bodies out early yesterday.
"Three more dead bodies were found at 11.50am. The total death toll has reached 51 people," the Myanmar fire services department said on its Facebook page.
Rain pounded Mon, Karen and Kachin states, flooding roads, destroying bridges and forcing people to flee by boat. Pictures from the area showed residents heading to higher ground by boat or swimming.
As the rainy season reaches its peak, 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 Agence France-Presse. "Helicopters will be used to supply food."
The bulk of the effort is focused on hard-hit Mon state on the coast of the Andaman Sea. Flood waters have submerged more than 4,000 houses and displaced over 25,000 residents who have sought shelter in monasteries, said the state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar.
Vice-President Henry Van Thio visited landslide survivors in a Paung village last Saturday and "spoke of his sorrow" while promising relief assistance, the paper reported.
About 89,000 people have been displaced by floods in recent weeks, though many have since returned home, said the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.