Christian churches destroyed, damaged in Myanmar floods

Minister says 4,000 people in his area are in urgent need of shelter
Christian churches destroyed, damaged in Myanmar floods

Apartments are destroyed following a landslide due to heavy rain in Hakha, Chin State in Myanmar on July 30. (Photo by Bik Lian/AFP)

At least six Christian churches have been damaged by landslides in Chin state in western Myanmar, where widespread flooding has killed more than 100 people, damaged hundreds of houses and displaced thousands of people.

Lai Cung, a pastor from the Hakha Khuahlul Baptist Church in Chin state, said the churches were damaged by flash floods and landslides in his ward in Hakha city. At least 2,000 people from his ward were displaced by the storms.

Two Baptist churches — newly opened in March and April — are so badly damaged they will no longer be used for Sunday services, Lai Cung said.

The pastor said the churches will be relocated because the structures were damaged beyond repair and the soil is not strong enough to hold a new construction.

In Christian-majority Chin state, flash floods and landslides destroyed hundreds of houses and displaced thousands of people. A mountainous area, Chin state is one of Myanmar's least developed regions, and its 73 percent poverty rate is the highest in the country.

The Rev. Tluang Ceu, secretary of the Hakha Rescue Committee, said that one small wooden Assembly of God church in Hakha was completely destroyed by landslides.

Furthermore, at least 800 houses are completely or partially destroyed in Hakha city and two nearby villages; the list could be higher as gaining access to many affected villages in Chin state remains a challenge.

“We urgently need temporary shelters for more than 4,000 people … as they can't return to their homes,” Tluang Ceu told in an Aug. 19 telephone interview.

Catholic Church officials said no Church structures were damaged in the flooding.

Meanwhile, the Seventh-day Adventist Church reported that 32 of their churches had been damaged.

At least 106 people died and more than 1.3 million people were critically affected by floods and landslides during July and August. A cumulative number of almost 300,000 households have been or remain displaced according to a U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report released Aug. 14.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, more than 313,000 hectares of farmland have been damaged, with the worst affected area being Rakhine state.

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