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Myanmar seeks international aid for flood relief

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Naypyidaw (Myanmar): With floods ravaging most parts of Myanmar and claiming 46 lives so far, its  government has reportedly sent out an appeal for international aid.

According to reports, the floods have also affected over 210,000 people, and at least four areas of the country have been declared disaster zones. These are Chin, Magway, Sagaing and Rakhine.

According to the BBC, several areas are still completely cut off by high waters or damaged roads, and state media is reporting that the government has admitted to giving a weak response to the disaster.

The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper quoted Information Minister Ye Htut, as saying that flood warnings had not reached everyone, and there had been confusion over evacuations.

The United Nations has said that the flooding has destroyed large areas of farming land, affecting food security in the long term

The call for international aid stands in contrast to the stance in 2008 when Cyclone Nargis killed more than 130,000 but the government refused outside help.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said agencies were scaling up their emergency response.

It said the World Food Programme had started providing food rations to 47,800 people, with the aim of reaching 150,000 people eventually.

Unicef has said it is distributing water purification and hygiene kits, and agencies are preparing to request for UN funds for financial support.

State media said the government had so far provided 1.5 billion Myanmar Kyats (USD 1.2 million) in emergency aid.

Transportation, electricity and communication has been disrupted across the disaster zones, and access to these areas remains a major challenge, the government and UN agencies said in separate statements. (ANI with inputs)