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Damage to infrastructure delays Magwe relief effort
Nov 03, 2011 Source : Myanmar Times
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AID for those affected by flash floods in Magwe Region has been delayed because of damage to roads and bridges and residents of some remote villages have not eaten since the floods occurred, aid organisations said last week.
         The floods affected 35,000 people in Magwe, Mandalay and Sagaing regions, and some 26,000 people are believed to have lost their homes, according to a United Nations report released on October 25.
         Sayardaw Kone Dara from Seikphyu township said that although floodwater had subsided, piles of silt and damage to infrastructure had interrupted relief work.
         “About 20 villages in Pauk and 25 villages in Seikphyu were flooded. The water level has subsided but has left a layer of silt about as deep as a man’s thigh,” he said on October 24.
         “Well wishers have provided rice for more remote villages and meal packs for those closer to Seikphyu town. But damage to roads has made it difficult to transport assistance. To reach some villages you have to walk for about four hours through knee deep mud. People from villages that were not affected have been helping to repair the roads.”
         He said the extent of the disaster was still not entirely clear, but that in some cases whole villages had been washed away.
         “There are many villages still out of contact. Today some people from villages such as Lal Thar Wa and Kin Mon Tung came to Seik Phyu and asked for rice as their villages are facing shortages.”
         Sayardaw Kone Dara said he had asked the Dahammadutha Buddhist Association in Mandalay to supply relief items, such as footwear, blankets and kitchen accessories, and these were due to arrive on October 25.
         “We intend to distribute assistance in the Kyun Pin village in Pauk township because we heard villagers there face difficulties because they have lost everything – even utensils to cook their meals,” he said.
         Daw Kinzana Soe, a project officer with Searcher-Myanmar Development Organisation, said authorities in Seikphyu township’s Seikkhan village had reported their village and other villages in remote areas were out of food.
         “They said there are some villages where they haven’t had any meals since the disaster. They have to cross damaged roads covered in knee-high silt for an hour to get meal packs or rice from donation groups in another village. They said the trip normally takes about 20 minutes,” she said on October 25. “The situation also makes it difficult for donation groups to send rice bags to villages.”
She said that, as of October 23, the official death toll in Seikpyu township stood at 11, with 19,371 people evacuated from 24 villages.
         U Myint Lwin, a resident of Pauk in Magwe Region, said that while transportation links between Pakokku and Pauk had reopened on October 26 the electricity was still out.
On October 26, President U Thein Sein visited affected areas in Pakokku, Pauk, Myaing and Seikphyu townships and gave assistance to affected families.
         The president said that “lives and property were lost in unprecedented overflow of creek in Pakokku District due to heavy rains”.
         “Due to living near the bank of creek, people inevitably had to face damages caused by natural disaster. Thus, it is necessary to make field trips for resettling the flood victims at the secure and safe places not to face losses again,” the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported.
         “Plans are to be made to rebuild the schools and provide stationery to children. Therefore, it is necessary to open the temporary school buildings as quickly as possible,” the report said. “Necessary assistance will be provided to [victims] for construction of housings. In so doing, the government will build the temporary housings only, and the victims are to improve their housings on their own. The victims are to make long-term plans to be able to stand on their own.”
         The report also said that “Htoo company, IBTC company, CT Bank, Shwe Thanlwin company, IGE company and Shwetaung company donated K200 million each, totaling K1.2 billion for reconstruction of houses in Pakokku, Myaing, Pauk and Seikphyu townships”.
         A flash flood situation report issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that initial estimates by the Relief and Resettlement Department of the Ministry of Social Welfare indicated that more than 35,000 people had been affected by flash floods in Magwe, Mandalay and Sagaing regions.
         The report stated that some 26,000 people from five townships – Myaing, Pauk, Pakokku, Salin and Seikphyu – had lost their houses and belongings. About 75 percent of the houses were flooded, 1290 dwellings washed away and about 20,000 people affected in Seikphyu township.
         The report added that damage to infrastructure was hampering access to some affected areas, and that there was a need for food, shelter and non-food items.
         Pakokku resident Dr Thet Lwin said a housing project had been initiated in the town for flood victims after the president’s visit.
         “Both houses and land will be provided for the flood victims – about 300 houses will be built altogether,” he said. “Individual donors and organisations have provided much assistance to affected families at relief camps in the town, and some donation groups have also gone to Pauk township.”

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