Death Toll Rises as Floods Ravage Myanmar

The death toll of Myanmar’s latest radical weather has risen to twelve in the wake of the monsoon season that is ravaging South-East Asia. The monsoon rains and flooding has displaced up to 148,386 people in Myanmar, who are presently taking shelter within 327 temporary camps set up to aid those without homes. Even more concerning is the fact that flooding has left a large portion of its citizens trapped within their own homes. Upwards of 28,000 people have been left trapped by the rains, unable to escape to the camps due to flooding or have chosen to remain in the event the weather changes

Danger posed by the rising water levels over the past week, especially in light of past predictions of water levels easing, has not gone unnoticed by the Disaster Management Departments Director General, Ko Ko Naing. In a recent report, he acknowledged that “Among the 12 people killed, three are soldiers who were swept away by floodwaters during a rescue operation in north-eastern Mon state,” He said “Heavy rains are still hampering us from reaching many of those affected places,” Further testimony on the harsh conditions comes from forty-year-old local fisherman, Win Kyu, who expressed his concerns “We experienced flooding like this back in 2000 – this year is the worst since then,”

Flooding has already caused catastrophic damage to the surrounding countryside. While there has been far less casualties than the floods of 2015, with efforts being made to evacuate those who are within flooded areas by both United Nations and local military personnel, one of the biggest concerns currently is the stability of the dams. There are as many as 38 Dams that are located throughout the country, and reports indicate that some of them are already at risk of overflowing further adding to the already dangerous water levels of the rivers if the levee’s fail. Therefore, securing the dams and ensuring their integrity should be one of the primary concerns for community safety.

The recent flooding from Monsoons is not the first time that Myanmar has faced a natural disaster on this scale within less than five years. In 2015, there was another period of heavy flooding that was the result of treacherous weather conditions. These monsoons saw the death of at-least 46 people within Myanmar, with as many as 217,000 people said to have been affected in these floods. These rains also saw over 140,000 of the minority Rohingya population displaced in the weather, further worsening already poor conditions for the population of the Rakhine state which came after unrest with the native Buddhist population.

The monsoon season has been difficult for not just Myanmar but it’s neighbours. Dams in Laos, which neighbours Myanmar, have also broken leading to mass flooding and damages throughout the nation because of the change in weather, highlighting just how damaging the weather conditions have been throughout the South-east Asian region. While the damages and loss of life in Myanmar have not risen to the same heights as they did three years ago, the task of ensuring that it does not do so must be undertaken. The biggest issue will be securing the dams and making certain that they hold, or else risk further danger to the displaced population.

Joshua Robinson