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1,000 people evacuated in Latpadaung due to floods

Salingyi locals head for higher ground on 13 July 2016 after the Chindwin River burst its banks. (PHOTO: DVB)

Approximately a thousand people have been evacuated to safety from around 200 homes in Latpadaung, in Sagaing Division’s Salingyi Township, after flash floods caused the Chindwin River to overflow.

Residents from the villages of Tontaw, Ywarthit, Shwele and Aleywa were evacuated when their homes and ranches were inundated by floodwaters from the Chindwin, where water levels were about three feet above normal.

DVB reported yesterday that a red alert had been issued in the nearby town of Monywa where the Chindwin was expected to burst its banks any day.

The evacuees are now being provided temporary shelters along the main road connecting Salingyi and Nyaungbingyi, where they are awaiting assistance and supplies from the government, said a local village official.

Tontaw resident Myint Htay said the flooding was caused by the Wanbao Company, a Chinese copper mining firm with operations in the area. He said the mine was obstructing the natural flow of the river.

The controversial Latpadaung mine has been the scene of many protests. In November 2012, riot police brutally attacked Buddhist monks and villagers who were holding a sit-in rally, calling for the closure of the mine. A subsequent investigation chaired by then opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi concluded that mining operations should continue.

Some 400 kilometres further north on the Chindwin, in Paungbyin Township, residents of 14 homes were evacuated yesterday when erosion caused a riverbank to begin collapsing.

Many areas around Burma are currently affected by floods as monsoon rains blanket northern and western parts of the country.

In Arakan State, several homes were evacuated in Minbya Township when flash floods hit this week.

According to official data, in July alone, 13,123 people from 3,164 households in Minbya have been evacuated due to monsoonal floods.