Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mandalay dam water leaves 2,500 homeless, cuts roads

Thursday, 14 October 2010 20:52 Salai Han Thar San

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Water released from dams in Mandalay after at least a week of heavy rain has inundated three wards in the divisional capital and forced about 2,500 from their homes, residents and relief workers said yesterday.

Seitawlay and Seitawgyi dams had reached dangerous levels after heavy rain filled their reservoirs to near capacity, forcing officials to open the floodgates. Run-off cut roads and swamped homes in Aungpinle, Thamankone and Myayinanda wards, residents said.

“People from these localities are taking refuge at Innkhayu monastery … There are about 2,500 flood victims there. They an’t return to their homes even though the water has receded slightly,” a resident and volunteer relief worker told Mizzima.

Officials feared the reservoirs, swollen after a least a week of rain, would force dam walls to break or collapse. After they opened the gates, the wards were inundated with four to 10 feet of water, depending on an area’s topography.

At least 10 people were killed in this flood, a monk giving food and medicine to the flood victims said. “The death toll is climbing and 10 bodies have been recovered so far in Aungpinle,” the monk said.

Mizzima was as yet unable to verify the death toll from an independent source.

Some businessmen such as Win Win Candle, Lucky drinking water, individual donors, and social organisations such as Bhramaso and monks were donating food and drinking water to the flood victims under the leadership of the abbot of Sagaing Myasetkya monastery, the monk said.

Authorities were collecting food parcels in rotation from other wards in Mandalay and had opened an aid-material collection centre in the city, a resident said.

The monk said that he and his volunteers were facing difficulties in their relief work.

“They [city authorities] don’t allow donors to donate relief materials directly to the flood victims. Soldiers and firemen want the relief materials delivered to them. But the monks forcefully waded through the floodwater to donate directly,” he said.

Drugs and dehydration packets were desperately needed for child flood victims, who were suffering from diarrhoea. Also badly needed were candles as electricity had been cut off, and mosquito coils, rice, meat and vegetables, the monk said.

The released water also inundated highway links to northern Shan State, leaving townships there cut off from communications for at least five days.

“We can’t go even to Pyinoolwin as the highway is inundated. There are no uphill or downhill cars. The highway buses running to Musay and Lashio have had to stop running as well. Cars can’t travel to Myingyan and they have to go via Meiktila,” a passenger bus operator’s ticket counter supervisor at the Chanmyashwepyi highway bus terminal said.

Meteorologist Dr. Tun Lwin warned that more and frequent storms were likely to hit Burma this month or next month, with heavy rain and gale-force winds also likely. He also urged the public to watch weather reports regularly.

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