Take care of effects of garbage dump fire

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  • Since a fire broke out at the Htein Bin rubbish dump in Hlinethaya Township on 21 April, the biggest challenge was to control the poisonous smoke emanating from the fire.
    The main cause of the fire was the buildup of methane from the rubbish dump. We do not possess the technology to dispose of garbage systematically, so methane under the massive rubbish dump has been building up over the years.
    The fire that started on 21 April was something Myanmar had never experienced before. The blaze in the rubbish dump had expanded to over 100 acres. We do not have the sufficient equipment to deal with fires like this yet. The combined forces of firefighters, Tatmadaw members and police have been working around the clock to control the fire and the smoke.
    The pollution from this fire has created health risks to the neighbouring area, and the authorities have prepared responses to the situation in nearby areas due to the smoke and carbon monoxide emitted by the fire.
    Common symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, confusion and irritability. At higher levels, poisoning can result in nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired vision and coordination, brain damage and death. Unfortunately, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with symptoms of viral illnesses like the common cold or seasonal flu.
    Carbon monoxide poisoning is serious and should be handled as a medical emergency. Get help immediately if you suspect someone was exposed to carbon monoxide.
    About 15 people have been hospitalized for emergency treatment. To avoid deaths from the poisonous smoke, people should take precautions against the poisonous carbon monoxide and seek help from local authorities to escape from dense smoke.
    There have been reports of breathing difficulties from firefighting personnel, but no reports of deaths yet.
    Five clinics have been set up in nearby villages to provide healthcare to the people, and about 50 ambulances are also being used to send patients to the hospital when necessary.
    People with heart-related or breathing problems tend to be affected more quickly by CO gas poisoning. Pregnant women, babies, and small children are also more susceptible.
    Though the fire is under control, smoke is still rising from the burning rubbish deep under the dump that is polluting the air.
    People are urged to be aware of the poisonous gas emissions.
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