Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Worse flooding in more than 30 years hits Pegu

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 22:12 Zwe Khant

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Because of four days of incessant rain in Pegu, thousands of flood victims have been displaced, officials said.

The rainfall, the worst in 30 years, has caused a high water level on the Pegu River of 940 cm,  30 cm above the danger level of 910 cm.

Flooding in Pegu has sent thousands of people to seek
shelter in monasteries and schools. Photo: Mizzima
“Heavy rainfall in the mountains caused the flooding. Another reason is that this is the time when the water level of the lower Pegu River is high. Because of the high water level of the river, [the rain water] cannot subside,” Pegu branch National League for Democracy chairman Myat Hla told Mizzima.

He said, “The water level has increased enormously. According to our regional language, heavy rain is called ‘Rain Axe.’ Like chopping something down with an axe, huge rain drops come down. If you put up your umbrella, the huge drops fall on your umbrella and then they bounce from the umbrella to the ground.”

In 1970, a severe flood hit Pegu. This flood is almost as severe as the flood in 1970, according to Myat Hla. The water level in Olayzoot, Mazin, Zaiganai (South and North) in downtown Pegu and Quarters No. 12 and 13 of Kyauktwinkone have reached over five feet. Flood victims are taking refuge at schools and monasteries in downtown Pegu.

An estimated 2,000 flood victims from about 300 families have taken refuge in Shwenanttha West Monastery and in a two-story building with a capacity of 4,000 people, which is located  west of Shwemawdaw Pagoda.

“Yesterday, I distributed a basket of rice [255.71 milliliter] to each family at Shwenanttha West Monastery,” said U Kateti, the abbot of Taungnanzu Village Charity Monastery.

Meanwhile, road communication is cut off in Pegu and schools and businesses are closed. Quarter heads are distributing food to flood victims. Individual donors have also donated rice, fish paste and noodles.

The Pegu River overflowed its banks after four
days of torrential rain.
“In the [affected] villages, all the victims are poor. They are workers earning a meager living. They are suffering,” said a layman who has distributed rice to the flood victims.

Myat Hla told Mizzima that some dykes might have broken; if so all farms in lower Pegu are likely to be inundated.

A Pegu Region minister recently visited the affected areas to observe conditions.

On Monday at around 4:30 p.m., the gates of Dabula Dam in Okkan in Taikkyi Township were opened when the water level reached 198 cm, three centimeter above the danger level. As a result, rising water damaged the Anawyahta Bridge [more than 200-feet in length] linking East Okkan and West Okkan. Homes in the villages near Okkan were inundated 

“The villagers had to leave their property and run to escape the rising water,” Thet Oo, a relief worker, told Mizzima. He said that when the flooding subsides a massive clean up operation will be needed.

Similarly, since Sunday heavy rain has hit Kyauktaw in Arakan State and the Kaladan River went over its banks and some villages were flooded. Some railway dykes and embankments were opened.

Similarly, because of heavy rainfall near Kalay in Sagaing Region, a river rose over its banks between Kalay and Kyikone villages. The water level nearly reached the bottom of the Hpaungzate Bridge.

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