News / Asia

Cleanup Underway from Flooding in Thailand, Burma

Ron Corben
Tens of thousands of people are still waiting to return home from camps in eastern Burma after days of heavy rains triggered massive flooding that forced many to seek temporary shelter. Aid groups are calling for urgent aid for populations hardest hit in remote regions amid concerns over disease outbreaks including malaria.

Thousands of people along Burma's eastern border states have been forced to remain in makeshift shelters after days of heavy rains triggered widespread flooding, which observers say was the most severe in two decades.

The flooding has badly affected Burma's Southern Kayin, also known as Karen, and Mon states, leading to the evacuation of over 33,000 people into 79 relief camps set up by local authorities.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says officials from Karen state are seeking assistance with access to isolated regions, made difficult due to roads being cut or damaged and the collapse of bridges.  UNOCHA says key items in need are food, sanitation and medical supplies. UNOCHA officials say many of those affected have lost homes and crops.

Major flooding also occurred in neighboring Thailand.  The Salween River broke its banks near the Thai town of Mae Sot, a key access route into Burma for goods and transport. Officials overseeing a dam near the town had also been forced to release water, adding to the flood damage.

Mae Sot has also played a key role in providing assistance to Burmese refugees and those displaced by Burma's internal conflicts over recent decades.

A key clinic providing medical aid to the refugees was itself temporarily flooded. But Yasmin Ahammad, a spokesperson at the Mae Tao clinic, said while waters in Mae Sot had receded, floodwaters remain high in the border regions of Burma's Karen State.

Ahammad said some 10,000 people are still living in 24 temporary camps in Karen. But the clinic's mobile health services have so far only reached four of the camps, located in Buddhist monasteries and schools.  

Ahammad says many staying in the camps face a desperate situation once they return to their homes, some now washed away. She says it may be sometime before they will be able to return home.  

"At least 20 of the families have completely lost their homes and all their belongings. They have nothing to go back to and the rest, they're still in the camps because if they go home they've got severe damage to their homes where they don't have any clean water, they don't have anything to cook with, they have lost all their clothes. So that's why they are staying in the camps," said Ahmmad.

Thai officials in Mae Sot say the flooding was the most severe in 20 years with damages put at close to $65 million. Nearby garment factories were forced to close, leading to around 4,000 factory workers being evacuated.

Overland and river transport remain badly affected. Roads between the commercial capital of Rangoon to the Mon state capital, Moulmein, and the Dawei Port in Tennaserim Division have also been cut due to flooding.

Burma's Meteorology Department says while the rains have abated, they are forecast to resume in the coming days, especially in southern Burma where they warn water levels are again expected to rise.

The flooding is reported to have killed at least 10 people.  In 2008, Burma's southern Irrawaddy Delta region was struck by a cyclone, leading to massive destruction and claiming the lives of over 130,000 people.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Steven Hulme from: Connecticut
August 04, 2013 2:30 PM
Last time I looked at the map the town of Mae Sot was not on the Salween River, but rather the Moie River. However the flooding is terrible and causes much damage, destruction and relocation.

It will be interesting to see what the new "democratic" government of Burma will do to aid the victims.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs