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Mrauk-U struggles with rising floodwater

The Lay Myo River, pictured an overflow level in Mrauk-U town. (PHOTO: Tun Noe Aye/DVB)

The town of Mrauk-U in Arakan State, home to one of the country’s most prolific ancient archeological sites, has suffered the greatest impact from monsoonal flooding with the majority of the 200,000-plus people in the township affected, aid workers say.

Civic society organisations and volunteers are working on relief efforts in Mrauk-U, as well as in neighbouring Minbya and Kyauktaw.

San Thein, a coordinator for the Civil Based Development Organisations Network, said that overflow from the Lay Myo River has besieged the towns, and that local people are also contending with an exponential increase in the price of basic commodities.

“The most needed item is food; the second is water for both drinking and sanitation; then they need shelter, and medicine,” he said. “Some children have no food to eat; they have to eat whatever is available. They have to drink floodwater. In some villages, children are suffering from severe diarrhoea. To make matters worse, the price of everything is rising exponentially,” he said.

“In some neighbourhoods of Mrauk-U, the water has risen to seven feet,” the relief coordinator said. “The water came fast and with force. Two bodies were found along the Lay Myo River. Each village has lost 20-40 houses. In Kyaung Tang village two people were killed. In Pazue Pe village, a whole family of four was wiped out.”

Pyo Pyo, a staffer from the Sittwe office of the Rakhine Friendship Association, told DVB that flood victims had to flee their homes without clothing and supplies.

“Some relief centres have opened at schools, monasteries and religious schools. But the evacuees don’t have enough clothes or blankets – they didn’t have time to bring anything.

“The next issue is sanitation and clean water. In some areas, saltwater has entered into the wells. Today, a drug company donated water sterilisation pills, which will arrive in the evening by plane. We will distribute these to the affected townships,” she said.

Eleven Burmese states and regions have been hit by flooding, landslides and intense rainstorms in the wake of Cyclone Komen which coincided with the seasonal monsoon.

On 31 July, the government declared Chin State, Sagaing Region, Magwe Region and Arakan State disaster zones.

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