Fresh Flooding Submerges Over 600 Homes in Myanmar's Sagaing Division

Area residents flee on their own to higher ground while waiting for government help.

Flooded homes in Sagaing Division's Khandi township are shown in an undated photo.

Torrential rains in northwestern Myanmar’s flood-hit Sagaing Division this week have left 100 villages under water, with over 600 homes submerged in Sagaing’s Khandi township alone, sources say.

No help has been provided so far to flood victims by authorities, a local resident told RFA’s Myanmar Service on Thursday.

“Government officials have just looked around the flooded areas and told people where to go,” Aung San Myint said, adding that people are now leaving their homes and moving to higher ground on their own.

“It is hard to provide relief to the villages, as we can only use boats to travel right now,” he said. “And the small boats that we have can’t move safely through the strong and heavy currents.”

“It would be good if the government and military could work with us to help the victims,” he said.

Flooding and landslides caused by annual monsoon rains and the tail end of Cyclone Komen in July have affected nearly 1.3 million people in Myanmar, killing more than 100, with Sagaing and other local areas declared disaster zones on July 31.

Two-thirds of Khandi is now flooded, with about 100 villages strung along or near the Chin Dwin River under water for the last two days, sources said.

“The water level in Khandi is now at 1,545 cm [608 inches], and the danger level is 1,360 cm [535 inches],” Chit Htway Tun, a supervisor at Khandi’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, told RFA.

“We are now at over 185 cm [72 inches] above danger level, and the water is still rising nearly an inch each hour,” he said.

Other areas threatened

Sagaing’s Homalin and Mawlike townships are also under threat, sources said, with residents of all three townships now joining earlier flood victims at local high points Pagoda Hill, Hospital Hill, and the headquarters of Military Battalion 52.

Local authorities are asking for helicopters to help rescue victims of the flooding, Hla Tun, a member of parliament representing Khandi said.

“I haven’t seen any INGOs [international nongovernmental organizations] or NGOs helping victims yet,” he added.

“Our rice fields will be destroyed by mud once the water goes down, and we will have to plant again.”

“If we can’t plant [paddy] crops, we will have to plant winter crops instead,” he said.

Flooding and landslides across Myanmar since July have 972,000 acres of crops and drowned 20,000 cattle, a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday.

Twelve of the country’s 14 provinces have been affected by the flooding, the FAO added, with 385,000 households displaced.

Reported by Zin Mar Win and Khet Mar for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Richard Finney.