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Thousands evacuated after a dam breach flooded more than 100 villages in Myanmar

From WN

Officials said at least 50,000 people were evacuated in central Myanmar on Wednesday after a dam breach flooded more than 100 villages and towns and damaged one of the major highways in the area on Wednesday, according to The Guardian.

Fire authorities dispatched a team to the Swar irrigation dam after the breach was first reported early Wednesday morning, sending a torrent of water downstream into the town of Swar.

Thousands are taking shelter in temporary camps and no casualties have been reported yet.

One official with the Natural Disaster Management Department said many people were afraid the water would continue to rise even though they were not directly affected by the flooding so they made the decision to preventatively evacuate.

Around 12,000 households or 54,000 people have been displaced according to statistics from the Department of Relief and Resettlement.

The Swar dam’s spillway structure broke due to intense monsoon rains in the Bago region, burying around 100 settlements and blocking the main highway with water.

The weight of the flood water also broke part of a bridge on the Yangon to Mandalay highway, one of the most important routes between Myanmar’s two largest cities.

“We don’t have exact data about the number of victims, but the water has hit villages where more than 50,000 people live,” the director of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Phyu Lae Lae Tun, told Agence France-Presse.

Myanmar’s army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, who is facing increasing pressure from the United Nations and countries to face international justice after a damning report detailing his role in the brutal persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine province, was on the scene of the flooding.

“We have to work together,” he told local media. “The spillway cannot be controlled currently and the water will not stop.”

AFP journalists said convoys of military trucks were transporting boats to the affected areas while people fled their homes with whatever they could carry.

Phyu lae Lae Tun said camps were being erected for those who are displaced while others are taking refuge in monasteries.

“But we don’t have the details of how many people are displaced or how many people are still living in their respective villages,” he said.

The dam breach comes after weeks of heavy monsoon rains already prompted flash floods which displaced more than 150,000 people to flee their homes., Maureen Foody

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