Myanmar: UN warns of increasing death toll in floods

2nd Aug 2015
Myanmar: UN warns of increasing death toll in floods

By Joshua Carroll

YANGON, (AA): Forecasters warned Sunday that heavy monsoon rains wreaking havoc across Myanmar are set to continue for at least the next two days as rescuers remained unable to reach many villages in the country’s worst-hit areas.

At least 27 have been killed and over 156,000 severely affected by the floods, but the UN said in a statement that the toll is likely to increase as assessment teams reach more remote areas.

The number of people affected is expected to be “significantly higher”, the statement from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Myanmar officials said Saturday that a further nine people had been killed, most in northern Kachin state when a boat capsized.

Observers have labelled the floods the worst to hit Myanmar in decades. President Thein Sein on Friday declared four of the most damaged areas as “national disaster-affected regions”.

The declaration covers Chin and Rakhine states, as well as Sagaing and Magway regions.

The Chin state capital of Hakha has been cut off by landslides since Wednesday, the Irrawaddy news website reported, raising fears of a food shortage

In Rakhine state 300 homes have been destroyed or damaged and 1,500 have been evacuated, according to the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

Maung Maung Khin, the group’s leader, said Sunday that “the figures are expected to increase in the coming days as Red Cross assessment teams access remote areas of Rakhine affected by the flooding.”

It is feared the situation of some 140,000 Rohingya Muslims confined under apartheid-like conditions to displacement camps is particularly severe.

Many are living in flimsy tents near the coast in Sittwe, the Rakhine state capital, following communal violence in 2012.

Thein Sein is facing criticism for failing to do enough to help victims, despite generous coverage of relief efforts in state-backed media.

Flooding has also caused devastation in several other Asian countries.

Twenty people died in neighboring India near the Myanmar border when a landslide buried an entire village in Manipur state Saturday.

And floods in Vietnam have killed at least 17, with mudslides reported to have engulfed homes. Meanwhile 36 have died in landslides in Nepal and 81 have died in Pakistan, where about 300,000 have been affected.

[Photo: Rohingya men and women cross a flooded road inside the Sittwe IDP camp . An estimated 110,000 ethnic Rohingya live in an overcrowded IDP camp in the outskirts of Sittweccording to the UN the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Sittwe, Rakhine State Myanmar on July 17 2015. Photographer: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency]

 

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