BAGO: A baby slept peacefully under a mosquito net oblivious to hundreds of evacuated flood victims lined up for food at a monastery in Myanmar on Saturday (Aug 12), all waiting for water levels to recede before they can return home.
Floods and landslides caused by monsoon rain have killed five and forced around 48,000 people to flee their homes, the relief ministry said.
On Saturday in Bago city, northeast of Yangon, children floated on rubber tyres squealing with joy, while adults paddled wooden canoes with supplies through the murky brown and yellow water to evacuation shelters.
Hundreds of families sat fanning themselves in an open-air hall at a monastery as volunteers distributed meal packs of rice and egg curry.
Parents and children curled up on mats surrounded by bags of their meagre possessions – clothes strung up on makeshift washing lines above.
Tin Win, 52, said although the conditions at the shelter were cramped and people were only receiving two meals a day, she was thankful to be safe and dry.
“The space is tiny and there is not much space to sleep. We have to lie down next to each other,” she told AFP.
“If there is no more rain, we hope to go back home in three days.”
Across the city, dogs scrambled onto Buddhist pagodas and steps to escape the flood water as rain pelted down.
The Myanmar weather bureau said the Bago River had risen a foot higher on Saturday but was expected to start going down over the coming days.
Myanmar experiences heavy monsoon rains every year, but scientists believe extreme weather events are being exacerbated by climate change.
“We rented a boat to move some stuff from home, but the boat couldn’t come very close. So, we had to walk in the water and carry everything we could,” the 64-year-old told AFP.
“We only took some clothes, pots and plates.”
Lay Shwe Zin Oo, director of Myanmar’s social welfare, relief and resettlement ministry said that five people had died and as of Saturday 48,000 have been evacuated from Kachin, Karen, Chin, Rakhine, and Mon states and the Magway and Bago regions.
“We have provided necessary food including instant noodles and drinking water,” she said.
“People are staying at monasteries, schools and other higher places.”
Meanwhile, Myanmar Red Cross volunteers are busy evacuating families, distributing food and providing health care in flood-hit Karen state, the international organisation said on Twitter, which has been re-branded X.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a February 2021 military coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government and plunged the nation into a bloody conflict between the junta and opponents of their rule.
According to a local monitoring group, more than 3,900 people have been killed since the coup, a figure the junta puts at 5,000.
The United Nations slammed the junta’s handling of the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha in May, which killed at least 148 people and destroyed homes.
It condemned authorities’ refusal to allow international aid workers to access the region, prompting state media to accuse the world body of “arrogance, ignorance and self-interest”.