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Flooding ravages Irrawaddy Delta

Two weeks of monsoon rains have left tens of thousands homeless

Flooding ravages Irrawaddy Delta
Flood waters surround City Hall in Pathein district
Daniel Wynn, Yangon

August 17, 2012

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Tens of thousands of people are homeless after torrential rains caused major flooding in the Irrawaddy Delta. Heavy monsoon rains, which started two weeks ago, have affected several townships, submerged thousands of houses and destroyed paddy fields, according to local residents. More than 90 schools in the region have also been closed. “The water level has now increased up to the waist,” said Maung Gyi, a resident of Thar Paung Township. He said the major highway between Pathein and Yangon is no longer accessible and the railways are also shut down. Only three out of 15 quarters in Pathein district have not been affected with the floods. In some areas, whole villages had to be evacuated, Maung Gyi said. Local relief volunteers say flood victims in temporary relief centers are in desperate need of food and health care. Meanwhile, some 9,500 acres of farmland in Kawkareik and Kyain Seikgyi townships in Karen state have been destroyed by flood waters, according to a report by Karen News. As many as 6,000 people have also been left homeless after severe flooding hit Hpa-an town, also in Karen State, the report said. Tun Lwin, the former director general of Myanmar’s Meteorology and Hydrology Department said flooding would recede in coming days, provided Myanmar was not hit by a storm currently developing in the South China Sea. Myanmar has experienced erratic weather patterns this year, with some regions in the central part of the country facing drought and the southern parts hit by heavy rains and flooding, Tun Lwin said. India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam are among the 10 countries with the greatest proportion of their economic output threatened by natural disasters, according to the latest study released by Maplecroft, a risk analysis company. Most of the major cities and commercial hubs in these countries are located along coastlines or low-lying areas prone to flooding as sea levels rise. They are also at risk of stronger storms fueled by warmer water and air temperatures, the study said.
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