Myanmar monsoon floods kill eight, disrupt lives of 400,000

Weeks of torrential rains have flooded more than 400,000 acres of paddy fields, Agriculture Ministry official says
Aung Hla Tun and Wa Lone Reuters 15 Aug 16;

YANGON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Floods caused by monsoon rains have killed at least eight people and disrupted the lives of 400,000 across Myanmar, the government said, a year since the worst floods in decades left thousands homeless and inundated vast tracts of farmland.

Weeks of torrential rains have flooded more than 400,000 acres of paddy fields, exacerbating last year's damage, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said on Monday.

With a per capita gross domestic product of $1,244, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in East Asia and the Pacific. Parts of Myanmar are flooded annually at the peak of the monsoon season, but the damage this year is being watched closely because reconstruction from last year is still under way.

The reaction of the newly elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi is also being closely monitored.

"So far as we can confirm through respective government departments, a total of eight people have been killed in the floods as of Sunday," Phyu Lei Lei Tun, director of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, told Reuters.

She said the Ayeyarwady delta, Myanmar's major rice producing area, was one of the most badly hit. Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, has not experienced serious flooding.

Some 174 people were killed and over 1.6 million affected last year. The floods were the worst natural disaster in Myanmar since Cyclone Nargis killed nearly 140,000 people in 2008.

"We're mainly focusing on providing healthcare to the victims and ensuring their access to clean drinking water and non-food items," Aung Kyaw Htut, deputy general secretary of Myanmar Red Cross Society, said.

(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Nick Macfie)