DEATH TOLL HITS 46 – flood disaster affects more than 200,000: government

Relief aid arrives by air in An, Rakhine State, one of the four worst-hit zones.—MNA
Relief aid arrives by air in An, Rakhine State, one of the four worst-hit zones.—MNA

Yangon, 3 Aug — The death toll from severe flooding across the country stood at 46 on Monday, with more than 217,000 people affected by the disaster, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement said.
The ministry said it had so far provided more than K1.5 billion worth of emergency aid to flood victims, including rice, construction materials and cash assistance for families of the dead.
UNICEF warned Monday that vulnerable children in Myanmar face a “double catastrophe” as floods added to the hardship faced by those already living in poverty or affected by violence and conflict.
“The floods are hitting children and families who are already very vulnerable, including those living in camps in Rakhine State,” UNICEF Deputy Representative in Myanmar Shalini Bahuguna said in a press release. “Beyond the immediate impact, the floods will have a longer term impact on the livelihoods of these families.” The government has declared natural disaster zones in four states and regions — Chin, Magway, Sagaing and Rakhine.
President U Thein Sein travelled to the worst-hit areas in Sagaing Region, promising that the government would provide rations to the flood victims for six months and assist in reconstruction of homes and farms.
Victims in Kalay, Sagaing Region, blamed local authorities for insufficient flood warnings.  “Flash flooding submerged my 23-foot-high two-storey home,” said flood victim Swe Moe Tun.
“We managed to escape from the flash floods but lost our property.”
Meanwhile, evacuees sheltering at Taungphilar Monastery in Kalay face a lack of toilets and are at risk of disease, a Buddhist monk of the monastery said.
Many of those sheltering at the monastery were traumatized after the once-in-a-century flash flood destroyed their homes and properties overnight, the monk said.
The government’s response to the floods has been limited in the face of such a huge disaster, with its flood warnings not reaching all the people, said U Yet Htut, Union Minister of Information and spokesman for the president.
The government’s weak response to the disaster led to misunderstandings about evacuation efforts, he added.
Information on the number of people affected in the worst-hit states, including Rakhine, is still limited, as assessment teams have been unable to reach some townships due to flooding, road blockages and landslides, according to UNICEF.
The flooding has inundated more than 1 million acres of farmland nationwide, damaging more than 426,000 acres and destroying more than 56,000 acres, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. GNLM

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