BAGO — Rising floodwaters have killed at least five people and forced tens of thousands from their homes across swathes of Myanmar, a government official told AFP on Sunday, as heavy monsoon rains continue to batter the Mekong region.
Dramatic images showed vast areas of farmland completely submerged in muddy waters stretching to the horizon, with only the rooftops of some houses visible.
Some stranded people were plucked from the churning inundations by rescuers in boats, while others waded through waist-deep water to escape, carrying children on their shoulders while trying to keep precious belongings out of the water.
“There are more than 54,000 displaced people affected by the flooding around the country,” a Ministry of Social Welfare official told AFP.
The official confirmed that five people had been killed but said this figure was expected to rise.
Evacuation orders had been issued in several areas, while some 163 camps have been set up for displaced people in southern, eastern and central parts of the country.
The floods in Myanmar come as a particularly heavy monsoon continues to pummel the region, bringing downpours that contributed to the collapse of a dam last week in Laos, which left scores dead or missing.
Myanmar is hit by severe flooding every year and climate scientists in 2015 ranked it top of a global list of nations hardest hit by extreme weather.
That year more than 100 people died in floods that also displaced hundreds of thousands across the country.
Myanmar’s worst natural disaster of recent times was Cyclone Nargis, which lashed huges stretches of the country’s coast, leaving at least 138,000 dead or missing in May 2008.