Myanmar declares disaster zones to deal with dire flooding
Jul. 31, 2015
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's president has declared several regions of the country to be disaster zones, as forecasts of heavy rain for the next few days have heightened fears that already dire flooding in many parts of the country will get worse.
An Information Ministry announcement late Friday said President Thein Sen had issued an emergency declaration covering Magway and Sagaing regions and Chin and Rakhine states, some of the areas hardest hit. The announcement did not specify what practical measures would be taken, but said the action would help restore badly affected areas.
Thein Sein had been coming under criticism, especially on social media, for not doing more to deal with the emergency. On Thursday, he urged Cabinet ministers to go out into the field to supervise flood relief operations, saying that since July 16, some areas of the country have become inundated by heavy rains that destroyed farmland, roads, rail lines, bridges and houses. Roads from central to northern Myanmar have been especially badly affected.
Heavy rains have caused severe flooding and landslides over much of the country. The government's Relief and Resettlement Department estimates that between 67,000 and 110,000 people have been severely affected by flooding, particularly in the Sagaing region, and Kachin and Shan states, accounting for 21 deaths in July.
There is particular concern about Rakhine state, where a tropical storm was moving from neighboring Bangladesh. The situation in Rakhine is considered especially dangerous, because more than 100,000 internally displaced people who fled their homes due to civil conflict in recent years live in poorly built and badly situated camps.
Earlier Friday, Myanmar's meteorological department warned citizens to prepare for more flooding as the Ayeyarwaddy and other major rivers were rising to dangerously high levels.