Monday, November 29, 1999

Floods in Myanmar kill at least 25, more feared

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Heavy rain in Myanmar has triggered floods and landslides, washing away bridges, blocking roads and killing at least 25 people, local officials and an aid worker said on Wednesday.Myanmar is no stranger to harsh weather and at least 140,000 people were killed in 2008 when a cyclone hit the south of the country.Large areas of two districts in Rakhine State in the west of the country had been inundated after torrential rain this week, an official who declined to be identified said by telephone from the region. One road had been blocked by a landslide, he added.A worker for an international non-governmental organisation, who also declined to be identified, said at least 25 people had died."We are still carrying out a survey and assessment of the damage and casualties and I think the death toll will keep rising," he said, adding that the government and NGOs based in the region were doing relief work.State media has made no mention of the floods, but the Meteorological Department said 34 cm (13.5 inches) of rain fell in the town of Maungdaw, on the border with Bangladesh, in one day this week.Flooding had also hit the towns of Mrauk Oo and Kyauk Taw, about 550 km (350 miles) northwest of the city of Yangon, washing away three bridges, although no casualties had been reported there, another official in the region said.Deforestation had contributed to the problem, with rain pouring off bare slopes and eroding soil, which blocked waterways, he said."The forests are gone and the creeks are choked. So flash floods are common in the rainy season," the second official said.(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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