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Mandalay, Pakokku hit by floods; Irrawaddy River exceeds danger level

An inundated house in Zaycho, 10 kilometres from Mandalay, 23 August 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)

Flooding has driven thousands of people from their homes in Mandalay Division as the seasonal monsoon wreaks havoc on the region. The Irrawaddy River, central Burma’s main waterway, is 37cm above danger level and continues to rise as rains show no sign of abating.

In Pakokku, 150 kilometres southwest of the city of Mandalay, nearly 4,500 households have been flooded, affecting more than 20,000 people. No casualties have been reported.

Further upstream, in the village of Zaycho in Tadu-U Township, 10 km from the city of Mandalay, some 3,000 local residents have been affected by floods. Schools, monasteries and homes have been inundated.

“We are most worried about the health and education of our schoolchildren,” said Khin Saw Win, the principal of a primary school in Zaycho. “Of course, every year we get floods but we are still very concerned about the children contracting dengue fever and getting skin infections. In the meantime, all local schools have been closed.”

Naw Zar Oo, a health worker from a rural health sub-department, said, “About 20 patients are currently receiving medical treatment here. We are providing emergency care to those coming from inundated areas and trying to make sure they don’t come down with flu or diarrhea.

At the popular tourist attraction of Taungthaman Lake, nestled just south of Mandalay in the historical town of Amarapura, water levels have swollen to the extent that the lake has almost swallowed the iconic U Bein Bridge. The 1.2-km bridge was built around 1850 AD and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.

U Bein Bridge, as it usually looks. (PHOTO: DVB)

U Bein Bridge, barely above Thaungthaman Lake, 22 August 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)