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Emergency flood relief aid was flown into Burma’s disaster zones over the weekend, as Burma’s president visited rural Sagaing Division where a state of emergency was declared after rains displaced tens of thousands of people.
State media television footage showed Thein Sein speaking with evacuees at a monastery being used as a temporary evacuation shelter in Kalay Township in Sagaing Division on Sunday.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a statement said over 150,000 people have been affected across the country as of 1 August.
Water levels were as high as 2.5 metres in Sagaing and 4.5 metres in western Arakan state, according to the government, which on Friday declared four regions disaster zones.
“Many paddy fields were damaged. I’m here today with the flood victims to find out possible ways to support and replace their loss. The water level is starting to drop slowly. Myanmar government team will try our best to help them for resettlement and recovery process,” President Thein Sein told a group of reporters during his visit to a disaster area over the weekend.
The state-owned Kyemon Daily reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation as saying that more than 970,000 acres of farmland, most of it rice paddy, had been damaged and more than 40,000 acres were completely lost.
Burma was inundated throughout last month and storms since July 22 have “severely affected” between 67,000 and 110,000 people, according to the United Nations.
Nearly 212 hectares (525,000 acres) of farmland has been affected, an area roughly the size of Luxembourg, and more than 13 hectares (34,000 acres) of paddy fields damaged, mostly in the Sagaing and Bago divisions as well as Kachin, Chin and Arakan states.
Though rain has stopped in most areas, the recovery effort is a major test for impoverished Myanmar. The country has only basic infrastructure and medical facilities and is ill-equipped to deal with disasters, as shown when Cyclone Nargis battered the Irrawaddy Delta in 2008, killing 130,000 people.