Monsoon Flooding Kills Dozens In Myanmar, Prompting Calls For Help

A boy paddles a makeshift raft in flooded Kalay township, in the Sagaing Region of Myanmar. Heavy monsoon rains have affected more than 210,000 people in 12 out of Myanmar's 14 states and regions since June. (Xinhua /Landov)
A boy paddles a makeshift raft in flooded Kalay township, in the Sagaing Region of Myanmar. Heavy monsoon rains have affected more than 210,000 people in 12 out of Myanmar's 14 states and regions since June. (Xinhua /Landov)

At least 46 deaths have been blamed on flooding and landslides in Myanmar, where monsoon rains have forced disaster declarations in four regions. More than 1 million acres of farmland have been flooded, the government says.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is appealing for international aid to help it cope with the flooding. Officials also say that because water has blocked travel between some areas, they don't yet know the full extent of the crisis.

"Flash flooding submerged my 23-foot-high two-storey home," flood victim Swe Moe Tun tells news site The Global New Light of Myanmar. "We managed to escape from the flash floods but lost our property.

After enduring weeks of heavy rains, Myanmar absorbed another heavy blow at the end of July, when a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal came ashore, bringing new damage and flooding.

From Beijing, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports for our Newscast unit:

"The government says that it needs help feeding, clothing and sheltering some 210,000 people displaced by the floods.

"Four regions of the country have been declared disaster zones, and some 1,300 schools across the country have been closed.

"Some rice exports have been suspended to meet domestic demand, and the floods have delayed preparations for general elections in November.

"On Monday, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited flooded regions by boat.

"President Thein Sein also visited stricken areas. He's come under criticism for a government response which some feel has been too slow."

The crisis is most dire for those who are the most vulnerable — including children and those in poverty, the international relief agency UNICEF warns.

"The heaviest affected areas are among the poorest states in Myanmar," the agency says, "a country where nearly 70 percent of people live close to the $2/day poverty threshold, and children make up 34 percent of the population."

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