YANGON: Severe flooding across Myanmar hampered rescue efforts on Saturday as thousands sheltered at monasteries after rising waters triggered by torrential rains killed at least 27 people, officials said.
Heavy monsoon rain has battered vast swathes of the country in recent weeks, decimating tens of thousands of homes and fields and leaving people stranded in remote villages in a disaster testing the government’s limited relief operations.
“Most of the country is flooded now,” said a director at the social welfare ministry who did not want to be named, explaining that all but one of Myanmar’s 14 provinces and regions were affected by the flash floods, rising waters and landslides caused by the downpour.
Rescue efforts by Myanmar authorities and local aid groups were underway but they are “struggling to access flood-hit areas”, the official said, adding that there was no update to Thursday’s death toll of 27 due to disrupted communications.
Western Rakhine and Chin states are among the four worst affected areas and on Friday President Thein Sein declared them “national disaster affected regions”, according to the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM) newspaper.
These regions “have seen huge destruction and face difficulty returning to normal conditions”, GNLM reported, citing the government announcement.