Floods cause Myanmar villagers to evacuate

  • 07/08/2015
A family rows a boat as they collect fresh water at a river (Reuters)
A family rows a boat as they collect fresh water at a river (Reuters)

Myanmar's president has called for the evacuation of low-lying areas as the Irrawaddy river threatens to breach embankments, leaving villagers with just sand-bags to hold back churning waters that have hit much of the country.

Floods from a heavy monsoon season have cut through swathes of south and Southeast Asia in recent weeks, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing millions.

Twelve of Myanmar's 14 regions have been struck, with officials saying 74 people have been killed and more than 330,000 affected – many forced into monasteries and other makeshift shelters after their homes were inundated.

In a picture muddied by damaged communications, relief agencies said floods had receded in some northern and western areas allowing supplies of food and clean water to trickle in, although landslides were still a threat.

The centre and south are now bracing for floods as water drains through the vast Irrawaddy delta.

In a message broadcast on radio early on Thursday (local time), President Thein Sein said areas near the Irrawaddy were at risk as the river rises "above danger level".

"As we cannot prevent natural disasters, I urge fellow citizens to move to safer places... it's the best way," he said, adding Hinthada and Nyaung Don townships along the river were in immediate danger.