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Flooding leaves 27 dead in Myanmar

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Flooding and apartments destroyed in a landslide caused by torrential monsoon in Harkhar, Chin State, Myanmar.

Heavy monsoon rains have caused severe flooding across Myanmar, leaving at least 27 people dead.

The rainfall in recent weeks has battered about 150,000 houses and fields across vast swathes of Myanmar, leaving residents stranded and waiting for government aid.

Government officials on Saturday said rescue operations and the process of moving the displaced people to shelters have been hampered by the massive flooding.

On Friday, the government declared four areas in central and western Myanmar as the worst-hit “national disaster affected regions” in the country.

“Most of the country is flooded now,” said a director at the Social Welfare Ministry, who did not want to be named.

“More than 7,000 people are sheltering in rescue camps at 23 monasteries in Minbyar town. We need drinking water urgently. Our road communication is cut,” Khin Zaw Win, a resident in Minbyar, a town in northern Rakhine, told AFP.

UN concerns

On Saturday, a United Nations (UN) envoy to the country expressed grave concern over the flooding, saying assessment teams had been sent to flood-hit areas to assess damages and plan proportionate relief responses.

Rakhine State, which is among the worst-hit flooded areas in the country, already hosts a multitude of refugees from the Rohingya Muslim community. The members of the persecuted minority group were forced to move from their homes to make-shift coastal camps in 2012, following deadly attacks by government-backed Buddhists monks.

About 140,000 refugees were living in awful conditions in these camps before the Monsoon rain hit the area.

The annual rainy season in Myanmar starts in May, with almost daily monsoon rainfalls until the rain tapers off in October.

The rain is regarded as a lifeline for farmers; however, heavy rain can also prove to be deadly in many instances, with landslides and flash floods taking the lives of people and livestock.

This year’s flooding is estimated to have so far destroyed at least 30,000 acres of farmland, and damaged another 73,000 acres.


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