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As many as four thousand people in Tachilek, eastern Shan State, were forced to flee to higher ground as heavy rain pounded the town over the weekend.The water has since subsided, leaving the streets of the town caked with mud and strewn with debris.
800 houses were submerged in water, destroying personal property and business assets. A local monastery doubled as a refugee camp over the weekend, before people began returning to their homes on Monday.
One local resident told DVB that her material possessions are now ruined.
“We just picked up our important documents and fled,” she explained. “So many of our possessions were swept away by the water. All the rest is completely sodden and destroyed. This is really awful for everyone here.”
On Monday, Tachilek police confirmed that no one is missing, quashing a rumour that a mother and her young child had been swept away.
Locals say the flood-swept roads did not allow for people to take many belongings as they fled the town for higher ground.
“The road out of town is nearly impassable, said one local man. “We weren’t able to take anything with us as we escaped. We need help from the local authorities to clear the road and shore up the burst river. I’m demanding that on behalf of the local people.”
A local parliamentary representative for Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, Tun Tun Win, said that people would have to wait to assess the full scale of the damage.
“Heavy rain poured down all weekend. Five neighbourhoods were three to four feet deep in water. The good news is that it hasn’t been life-threatening. However, we can’t yet ascertain what has been lost or damaged. We’ll know more once waters have completely receded.”
Tachilek sits on Burma’s border with Thailand.
The adjacent town of Mae Sai was also affected by the floods, and the Friendship Bridge connecting the two countries was temporarily closed.
Police, firefighters and Red Cross workers have been assisting the families as they pick up the pieces.
They said it has been the worst flooding in the area for 15 years.