08/27/2012, 00.00
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Floods in Myanmar, at least 85 thousand displaced people in the Irrawaddy delta

Official estimates of 250 thousand hectares of land flooded. The government has already set up 200 centers. Fears for the production of rice, a key element of the economy. It is the same area devastated in 2008 by Cyclone Nargis, which caused 130 thousand deaths and was "obscured" by the military junta. However this time the response of the Burmese leadership is different.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 85 thousand people have fled their homes because of recent heavy monsoon rains in various parts of Myanmar. Government sources in Naypyidaw report that the most affected area is concentrated along the Irrawaddy Delta, where in 2008 about 130 thousand people have died as a result of Cyclone Nargis. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land and rice fields - unofficial estimates speak of 250 thousand hectares - are submerged, it is the worst natural disaster in recent years, during a period a season unused to such heavy monsoon rains.

Burmese President Thein Sein has already visited the areas affected by the flood, even though the block of transport and road damage make it impossible - so far - to draw up a precise picture of the disaster. However, the head of state's attention to the disaster is (also) a sign of the change in the Burmese leadership, which during the Cyclone Nargis tragedy - May 2008 - sought to minimize the extent of the problem, leaving the victims to their fate before yielding to international pressure.

Meanwhile, the government has set up more than 200 shelters to house those who had to flee their homes. According to experts, the floods will eventually also affect next year's harvest, rice is a key element for the Burmese economy, topping the list of exported goods and basic food for the population.

At the moment there is no confirmation of deaths or injuries, although a precise estimate will only be possible in the coming days. Local sources said that heavy rains have damaged, in addition to homes, several bridges, roads and railway lines.


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