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At least 57 killed as floods lash Myanmar, Thailand

Authorities in Myanmar evacuated 500 homes on the outskirts of central Mandalay city after floodwaters rose overnight, officials said.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2006 14:26 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

At least 57 people have been killed and thousands forced to abandon their homes as the worst floods in recent memory wreaked havoc across Thailand and Myanmar on Thursday.

Military-run Myanmar, one of the world's poorest countries, struggled to cope with floods that have so far killed 13 people, according to state media.

The Myanmar authorities evacuated 500 homes on the outskirts of the central city of Mandalay after floodwaters rose overnight, one official said, while residents said about 10,000 people had fled to emergency shelters.

Some sought refuge in schools, but many were forced to camp out by the side of the road.

Desperate villagers piled whatever possessions they could carry into canoes as floodwaters submerged homes.

"I've never seen flooding like this before in my life," said one 67-year-old villager.

The road between Mandalay and the tourist city of Bagan was blocked, as was the main highway between Yangon and Mandalay, with lorries backed up for miles waiting for some five feet (1.5 meters) of water to subside.

Most official media made no mention of the devastating floods, although the official Mirror newspaper said 10 people had been killed when the floodwaters hit Kyuakpantaung township, 240 kms southwest of the city of Mandalaya on Tuesday.

A Burmese-language state-run newspaper put the overall toll at 13.

State media reported on Wednesday that more than 3,000 homes and 900 acres (364 hectares) of farmland were inundated.

In neighbouring Thailand the death toll from flooding caused by heavy rain in the wake of Typhoon Xangsane rose to 44 on Thursday.

The floods, which began last August, have affected two million people in 46 provinces, causing an estimated 236 million baht (seven million dollars) worth of damage, and deluging 1.5 million rai (600,000 acres) of farmland.

Ministry of health officials said that 260,000 people are suffering from flood-related diseases.

Thousands have fled their homes and into temporary shelters, and severe flooding remains in 18 provinces, mostly in central and northern Thailand.

In Ayutthaya, 90 kmsnorth of Bangkok, flooding has lashed hundreds of ancient temples, while the northern tourist province of Chiang Mai has been worst hit, with seven fatalities and one person missing.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) said heavy rains could continue in northern and central regions until the end of October, before moving south.

"Rains might be decreased by the end of this month, but floods are unlikely to get away from Thailand until December, as the sea level remains high," DDPM official Suriyan Domkhunthod said.

First Published: Oct 12, 2006 14:26 IST