08/06/2018, 15.51
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Flooding displaces 53,000 people in Myanmar

by Lawrence Jangma Gam

The water level in the Bilin, Salween, Sittaung and Bago rivers is above security levels due to heavy rains. Residents in the three most-affected states are asking for immediate aid. Water has also reached monasteries located on higher grounds.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Heavy seasonal rains have swollen four major rivers in Myanmar causing massive flooding. More than 53,000 people have been forced to flee.

Three states – Mon, Karen and Bago – have declared a state of emergency. Affected residents are asking the government for immediate aid.

As rain continues to fall, water levels along the banks of the Bilin, Salween, Sittaung and Bago rivers have remained above security level.

More than 10,000 people have displaced near the cities of Bilin and Thaton (Mon State) with at least 18 villages completely under floodwater.

About 8,000 residents found shelter in 32 emergency camps near Bilin; another 2,000 are in the Kyaikto area.

Moving aid into the area is very difficult and dangerous. On 27 July, three soldiers involved in rescue operations were swept away by the water and are still missing.

Even Buddhist monasteries have not been spared. "Although the temples are all on high ground, the water has reached them,” said Kwun Ngan, a Buddhist monk.

In Karen State, the Hlaing Bwe and Salween rivers are also flooding. For residents, this is the worst natural disaster of the last 20 years.

"I've been living here for over 40 years,” said U Own Myint. “I've never seen anything like it." Here too, camps have been set up for residents, about 13,000 people.

Bago is the most affected area, with over 30,000 people displaced.

"The Shwegyin River continues to rise,” said Dr Myint Oo. “I have been in Shwegyin for 18 years and never experienced this kind of disaster. Only one neighbourhood in eight has been spared,” he added.

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