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Mud volcano erupts in Arakan

Mu volcano erupts in Kyaukphyu, 29 August 2014. (PHOTO: Rakhine Social Network Information Centre)

A mud volcano in Kyaukphyu Township on the west coast of Burma has erupted, spilling tons of mud across three village tracts and destroying more than 100 acres of paddies fields. No one has been reported injured.

The mud volcano erupted on *Sunday evening at around 5pm, according to Htun Htun Naing of the Rakhine Social Network Information Centre.

“Warm mud lava flooded more than 30 acres of paddy fields in Shauk-Chaung village track,” he told DVB on Monday. “It flowed quickly for about two hours before settling.”

He confirmed that there were no casualties; however the mud had been flowing towards the land reserved for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ), raising concerns, he said. Shauk-Chaung village is located less than half a mile from the demarcated boundary of the SEZ.

On Tuesday morning, Shauk-Chaung resident Kyaw Win updated DVB, saying that a total of 90.4 acres, mostly rice fields and pasture, had now been confirmed inundated by mud in the village area, but no houses had been destroyed.

He said two other village tracts have been affected, with the total devastation estimated to be between 100 and 200 acres.

Arakan State is home to a number of small mud volcanoes, which exude a warm mud-like substance caused by a build-up of abiogenic hydrocarbons. About 86 percent of the gas released from these structures is methane, with a small amount of carbon dioxide and nitrogen emitted.

Local news agency Narinjara reported in June that a proposal had been made to shift the Kyaukphyu SEZ from the villages of Sit Taw and Si Maw to another location as a mud volcano had been discovered there.

The report cited Aung Kyaw Than, a senior official at the SEZ, saying, “The advisory group of SEZ International, which was invited by the government, suggested shifting the SEZ, and the authorities are actively considering a safer and new location.”

The town of Kani, south of Kyaukphyu, had been suggested.

* This text has been amended from the original, which stated the eruption occurred on Friday.