The toll from flash floods and landslides in Myanmar after days of torrential rain is likely to spike, the UN warned yesterday, as monsoonal downpours brought misery to thousands across the region.
At least 27 people have been killed and more than 150,000 people have been affected by flooding in Myanmar in recent days, with the government declaring the four worst-hit areas in central and western Myanmar as “national disaster-affected regions.”
Many people have also perished in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam following floods and landslides triggered by heavy seasonal rains.
Rescue work in Myanmar has been hampered by continued downpours and the inaccessibility of many of the remote regions worst hit by the deluges.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) yesterday said it had been informed by the Burmese government’s Relief and Resettlement Department that at least 156,000 people have been affected by the floods, but that figure was likely to be “significantly higher” because many areas “have still not been reached or reported on by assessment teams,” the agency said.
The OCHA said the official death toll of 27 was also likely an underestimate.
“As further information becomes available, this figure is also expected to increase,” the statement said.
Seasonal monsoon rains have also brought death and destruction to other Asian nations.
About 20 people were feared dead after a hill collapsed onto a village in India’s northeastern state of Manipur on Saturday following incessant rains, a local magistrate said.
Rescuers yesterday were clawing through mud and debris searching for bodies and survivors of the accident in the remote village in Chandel district bordering Myanmar.
“So far we have reports of 20 people killed when a hillock caved and trapped the villagers,” magistrate Memi Mary told media by telephone from Chandel town.
Torrential rains have triggered flooding elsewhere in India including in worst-hit western Gujarat, where the death toll has hit 53.
In Vietnam rescuers were battling toxic mudslides from flood-hit coal mines in northern Quang Ninh, home to the UNESCO-listed Halong Bay tourist site.
Seventeen people have been killed in recent flooding including two families swallowed up by the toxic mud.
“In one second, mud and rock smashed into my house. We were lucky to escape with our daughter,” primary-school teacher To Thi Huyen said.
Inundations have also hit Pakistan, with 81 people killed and about 300,000 people affected by floods in the past two weeks, while 36 people have perished in landslides in Nepal.
Two of the worst-affected areas in Myanmar are the remote and impoverished western states of Chin and Rakhine.
The Myanmar Red Cross Society said 300 homes in Rakhine had been destroyed or damaged, with around 1,500 people evacuated to shelters.
“The figures are expected to increase in the coming days as Red Cross assessment teams access remote areas of Rakhine affected by the flooding,” agency head Maung Maung Khin said in a statement released yesterday.
Rakhine already hosts 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, who live in exposed makeshift coastal camps following deadly 2012 unrest between the minority group and Buddhists.
State media also reported that the Chin state capital Haka had been rocked by landslides over the weekend destroying 60 homes, a number of key roads and seven bridges.
The sheer extent of the flooding is testing the government’s limited relief operations.
An official at Myanmar’s social welfare ministry who did not want to be named told AFP on Saturday that all but one of the country’s 14 provinces and regions were affected by flash floods with rescue workers “struggling to access flood-hit areas.”
Myanmar is annually struck by monsoon rains that are a lifeline for farmers, but the rains and frequent powerful cyclones can also prove deadly, with landslides and flash floods a common occurrence.
In May 2008 the then-ruling junta was heavily criticized for its slow response to Cyclone Nargis which devastated the Irrawaddy Delta region and killed about 140,000 people.
The army has since ceded control to a quasi-civilian reformist government and fresh elections are slated for Nov. 8.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference