Flooding in Myanmar has now killed at least 27 people and affected more than 150,000, numbers that are both expected to rise, as the government, military and relief organizations work to carry out rescue operations and provide aid.
President Thein Sein went Saturday to the Sagaing region in northern Myanmar, one of four areas where he has declared a state of emergency.
Weeks of heavy rains, made worse by a cyclone that hit late last week, caused flooding and landslides that have hit the western part of the country hardest. Some areas have seen floodwaters several meters deep.
In Rakhine state, along Myanmar’s southwestern coast, the U.N.’s humanitarian agency said Saturday that there are reports of “extensive damage” to camps around Sittwe, where 100,000 people already displaced by conflict in Myanmar have been staying.
Last week, Thein Sein urged government officials to directly supervise flood relief operations.
Though rain has stopped in most areas, the recovery effort is a major test for impoverished Myanmar, which has only basic infrastructure and medical facilities.
Nearly 525,000 acres of farmland has been affected, an area roughly the size of Luxembourg, and more than 34,000 acres of paddy fields damaged, mostly in the Sagaing, Kachin State, Bago and Rakhine state regions, the agriculture ministry said.
Television footage showed bridges damaged or shaking from the strong current of floodwater. Cattle were drowned or seen with only their noses poking above the flow of water.