UN warns Myanmar flood toll to rise as rains lash region

Yangon: The toll from flash floods and landslides in Myanmar caused by days of torrential rain is likely to rise, the UN warned today, as monsoon downpours heaped misery on thousands across the region.

At least 27 people have been killed and more than 150,000 affected by flooding in Myanmar in recent days, with the government declaring the four worst-hit areas in central and western Myanmar “national disaster-affected regions”.

Scores have also perished in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam following floods and landslides triggered by heavy seasonal rains.

Rescue work in Myanmar has been hampered by continued downpours and the inaccessibility of many of the remote regions battered by the deluges.

In Kalay, one of the worst-hit towns in the country’s northwest Sagaing region, floodwaters on Sunday had risen as high as the roofs of houses and above the tops of coconut trees, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Vast tracts of farmland had been swallowed up by the flooding, turning a normally fertile flat valley into an expansive lake.

An official at Myanmar’s Relief and Resettlement Department, who asked not to be named, told AFP that at least 166,000 people have now been affected by the floods.

But the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the real figure was likely to be “significantly higher” because many areas “have still not been reached or reported on by assessment teams”.

OCHA said the official death toll of 27 was also likely an underestimate.

“As further information becomes available, this figure is also expected to increase,” the statement warned.