Central Myanmar dam breach affected 63 000, displaced 36 000 and left 4 dead and 3 missing

Heavy monsoon rains caused a partial breach of a levee at Swar Chaung Dam in central Myanmar on August 29, 2018, affecting more than 63 000 people, displacing 36 000, killing at least four and leaving three missing. As many as 85 villages were flooded. The casualties were confirmed two days after the event.

“The retaining wall of the spillway sank into the foundation about 1.2 to 1.5 m (4 to 5 feet), causing the flooding, but the main dam is intact,” said Kaung Myat Thein, an irrigation official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.

Thein said the dam was regularly inspected and a spillway collapse could not have been predicted. “We could not know one day before, one hour before.”

“According to the information we got as of this morning, four people were killed and three went missing during the floods,” director at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Phyu Lei Lei Tun, said Friday, August 31.” “The water level receded yesterday, but the rise in the water level of the Sittaung River at Taungoo has increased the number of people affected. We can’t say yet when the water will subside.” 

While some were able to wade through chest-deep water on the first day to get to higher ground, many families are still stranded as search and rescue efforts led by the military attempted to reach them on Friday, AP reports.

The intense flood waters devastated the rural flatland region where more than 60 000 people reside primarily in easily damaged bamboo and wooden houses, the report said.

Days before the breach, authorities had given the all-clear to the dam, which can hold 267 million m3 of water, despite residents’ concerns about overspill.

Featured image credit: The Star Online

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