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Floodwaters flow south to Irrawaddy delta

Hinthada MP Htay Oo (centre, white shirt) and Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing (centre, military uniform) brief residents in Hinthada on 6 August 2015 before handing out relief supplies. (PHOTO: DVB)

Water levels are rising in the Irrawaddy and Pathein rivers, leaving residents concerned that dikes will not be able to withstand the growing pressure as monsoonal floodwaters move south into the Irrawaddy delta from affected regions further north.

A statement yesterday from the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said that the current on the Irrawaddy River was close to overflowing. In the towns of Pyay and Seiktha, waters rose to 2.5 feet above the ‘danger level’; three feet in Zalon; and 3.5 feet in Hinthada.

On the Pathein River, also known as the Ngawon, water levels reached 3.5 feet above danger level in Ngathaingchaung. The met office warned that rivers may continue to rise.

A resident of Hinthada told DVB, “If the dike does not break, there will be no problem. If it does, everything from Hinthada all the way downriver to Pantanaw [100 kilometres] will be inundated.”

Many people from at-risk towns have evacuated their belongings and valuables to higher ground.

An official from the Nyaungdon Regional Control Centre said, “Currently, the dike has held firm. Some villages have been affected by run-off but not in the main towns. In any event, the authorities, police, and relief workers are on stand-by. If there is any emergency, they are ready with a lot of manpower.”

Residents in Pathein told DVB on Wednesday that 34 neighbourhoods or quarters had been flooded, as had the area in front of City Hall. Local man Thet Lwin said no homes had yet been destroyed.

“There has been no destruction or evacuation to date,” he said. “Volunteers from the local Human Rights Defenders and Promoters group and other residents gathered this morning in front of City Hall after collecting donations totaling 13 million kyat (US$10,800). They then headed to the town of Pwintphu with two-thirds of the money, leaving one-third here for other emergencies.”

Meanwhile, President Thein Sein has announced that the government is prepared to begin reconstruction work across the country in the wake of the monsoonal floods which have inundated over a million acres of land nationwide.

The president assured the country that the government is “working systematically” on rescue and support efforts across Burma.

Speaking in his monthly radio speech to the nation today, Thein Sein said, “Though we could not prevent the natural disaster, we are working to mitigate the losses. With sympathy, patriotism, responsibility and duty we are working together with the people to rehabilitate the country.”

The president promised to continue to supply rice, humanitarian aid and compensation to those affected.