Heavy rains damage dam near Bago, flood 85 villages forcing 63,000 to be evacuated

Heavy rains caused a dam spillway, which controls the release of more than 20,00 cubic metres of water, to break. Water poured into the Sittaung River, flooding settlements on its east bank. Floods in July and August have affected so far more than 210,000 people in more than 9,900 household, with 13 deaths.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Following the collapse of the Swar Creek dam, four people have died, three are missing and 63,000 have been evacuated from 85 villages in 17 village-tracts in Yedashe Township (Taungoo District), this according to state media and the Bago Region Government Office.

Heavy rainfall over the past week has caused the dam's spillway, a structure that controls the release of more than 20,000 cubic metres of water held in Swar Chaung's levee, to break two days ago.

Water poured into the Sittaung River, forcing it to overflow, flooding villages along its east bank.

Officials said that at present the amount of water flowing out of the dam was decreasing but they remain worried as the river was still very swollen.

The Meteorological Department yesterday warned residents of Madauk and Shwe Kyin near the Sittaung and Shwe Kyin rivers in Bago region and Hpaan near the Salween River “to take precautionary measures” as the water had reached a dangerous level. It also warned that the Bago River is likely to reach dangerous levels today and tomorrow.

Government ministers, officials, soldiers and firefighters have been making desperate rescue efforts since the spillway burst on Wednesday, flooding villages and causing a bridge on the Yangon-Mandalay Highway in Yedashe Township to buckle, disrupting commuters and transportation.

The authorities noted that some 7,000 people found shelter in villages near the dam, in Buddhist monasteries, and in safe areas in Yedashe Township; more than 1,500 found refuge in Thagaya, a town not affected by the disaster.

Ko Lwin, one of the displaced residents in Swa, said: "The regional government is offering assistance in first aid centres located along the main roads. However, there are some villages that are still inaccessible. The military is trying to bring water and rice to trapped people."

U Lwin added, "The floods have damaged most of the roads; the government is trying to build alternative paths".

Meanwhile, another 32 villages and six quarters in Okpho Township in Tharrawaddy district of Bago were also inundated on Wednesday due to heavy rains.

From late July to mid-August, 10 townships in Bago’s four districts — Bago, Taungoo, Pyay and Thayawady — have been flooded. Over 137,000 acres of farmland out of almost 500,000 acres have been inundated, the Bago Region Government Office said.

More than 116,000 residents of the 10 townships have been affected. Bago is the most flood-affected area in the country, but other regions have also faced flooding including Magwe, Tanintharyi, Irrawaddy, Sagaing and Naypyitaw, as well as Chin, Karenni, Karen and Mon states.

The flooding in July and August has so far affected more than 210,000 people in over 9,900 households, and caused 13 deaths nationwide, this according to figures released by the National Natural Disaster Management Committee on 25 August.