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Floods add to people's misery in northern Myanmar

Thousands of locals and displaced people flee as flooding ravages northern Kachin state
People make their way through floodwaters in Kachin state on July 2

People make their way through floodwaters in Kachin state on July 2. (Photo: AFP)

Published: July 04, 2024 04:45 AM GMT
Updated: July 04, 2024 06:25 AM GMT

Thousands of people, including displaced people, have been hit by floods caused by recent torrential rain in northern Kachin state in civil war-hit Myanmar.

However, there were no immediate reports of deaths in the flooding which occurred after several rivers burst their banks, forcing thousands to flee.

In a statement on July 3, the Meteorology Department said the water level in the Ayeyarwaddy River in the Kachin capital Myitkyina had come down.

However, areas like Bhamo, Shwegu, Katha, Htigyaik, Khanti, Mawlike, Homalin, and Phaungbyin Tanai and a few places in the Sagaing and Mandalay regions still face risk, the department noted.

Worst-hit areas included the townships of Myintkyina, Chipwi, Waimaw, and Tanai.

On July 2, the department said the water level of the Ayeyarwady River was about 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) above its warning mark, and on the Chindwin River, it was 5.5 feet above the warning mark.

Local rescue workers claimed that the junta was reluctant to come to the aid of flood-hit victims.

Local associations have undertaken rescue operations of their own accord, but were struggling due to a shortage of boats and fuel.

The flooding has hit normal life with barely a roof of many houses visible, said Ma Ywe, a 29-year-old resident of Ranpu.

Since government-run evacuation centers are not working, many victims have taken shelter in local monasteries where resources to support victims are scant, volunteers said.

Power supplies have also been hit and people have to stand in line to purchase daily provisions, they added.

The flooding has also made essential items dearer, said 42-year-old Ma Kyawt from Khymarthiri.

Ko Mai, a 40-year-old resident from Mawphaung, told UCA News that low-lying areas are worse-hit.

“You still need to rent a motorboat and pay roughly US$3 for transportation if you wish to go downtown,” Mai said.

The threat of water-borne diseases is high and there is little assistance from the military, Mai added.

Ko David from the Chisaunggyin Social Welfare Organization, said they have been distributing food and drinking water for three days.

The disaster management ministry of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) has come out with a list of dos and don'ts regarding the flooding, according to residents.

The flooding has compounded the misery of people around Myitkyina who were  displaced in May after heavy fighting erupted between junta forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

In May last year, Cyclone Mocha hit the coast of Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh, causing widespread havoc with hundreds killed and thousands of homes destroyed.

The recent flood comes just weeks after Myanmar experienced a record-setting heatwave that sent the mercury soaring above 48 degrees Celsius in many places in the Southeast Asian nation.

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