Myanmar officials drain dam without warning, flood Mandalay villages

More than 30,000 residents were forced to leave their homes and belongings behind in Myanmar’s southern Mandalay region after their villages were unexpectedly flooded.
While parts of Madaya township face yearly flooding from the nearby Ayeyarwady River, residents told Radio Free Asia that this year’s quickly rising water levels came as a surprise. 
After continuous rain that began on Tuesday, local officials released excess water from Se Taw Gyi dam without alerting residents.
“The villages that are flooded every year are now facing severe flooding from both the river and the dam. Even the villages where water does not normally reach are flooded now,” said a relief worker from Myanmar Rescue Madaya who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. 
“We are helping from village to village and anti-regime defense forces are also helping. But relief is weak.”
Residents evacuated on the night of Oct. 12 into Wednesday morning, a local of Tha Pyay Chaung village told RFA.
“There are many villages that are flooded. Villages that were not normally flooded [before] are flooded now. In the past, they [officials] used to inform the people by letter when they were about to release water from the dam,” said the local.
“People are facing trouble now because they were not informed. The water went up to five feet (1.5 meters) in the house last night and we had to leave behind our belongings that we could not take.”
The affected villages also include Inn Ta Khar, Waw Su, Wun Su, Oke Taik, Oke Set, Pan Kan Su and Ah Htet Taung Kaing villages.
The resident said victims’ livestock are also being relocated to higher ground. 
In flooded rural areas where antivenom can be scarce, he added that displaced victims were particularly concerned about being bitten by poisonous snakes common in the country’s dry zone.
RFA called Thein Htay, Mandalay region’s economic minister and junta council spokesman, seeking comment on flooding in Madaya township, but he did not respond on Friday.
Madaya township faced similar flooding in 2017 from Se Taw Gyi dam.
Floods from heavy rain have also been affecting areas of Bago division, northern Shan and Mon states due to rising water levels in rivers since the second week of October.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Taejun Kang.


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