Mon monsoon landslide kills 23, dozens injured

10 August 2019
Mon monsoon landslide kills 23, dozens injured
This aerial view shows a landslide in Thalphyugone village in Paung township, Mon state on August 9, 2019. Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP

A major landslide sparked by heavy monsoon rains killed at least 23 people and injured dozens more in Mon State, according to officials Friday, as serious flooding forced tens of thousands across the country to flee their homes.

A local official told media that a deluge of mud engulfed 16 homes and a monastery early Friday in Thae Pyar Kone village in Mon state.

House of Nationalities MP from Paung constituency Mi Kun Chan told Mizzima on Friday evening, “We are doing search and rescue work. We heard that a landslide occurred at about 8 a.m. today. Earth moving machinery backhoes reached the site late as there was severe flooding in the area. We believe 16 houses are buried under landslide.”

She said that they have found 22 bodies so far from the landslide site, adding they are continuing retrieving these bodies from the rubble and debris.

“I asked local administrator about this calamity and he told me that there was earthquake that morning. The mountain was shaking at that time and the landslide took place with falling of earth in incessant rain and flood water. The rain and flood water seemed pulling down the boulders of the mountain too. And then all the houses, vehicles and people were buried under these boulders and massive earth,” Mi Kun Chan told Mizzima.

The authorities are struggling to cope as flooding has affected many areas in Mon State and rescue teams and earth moving machinery took time to reach the sites of natural disasters.

Many rescue teams from Mon and Karen States including from Thaton rushed to the disaster site and police force and fire fighters are carrying out the search and rescue work at the site.

The rescue teams have found 22 bodies so far until 9 p.m. Friday evening and they reportedly rescued 29 people alive.

A Mizzima reporter who reached the site said emergency teams were reported to carrying out a search and rescue operation into Friday night in the hunt for more survivors or to retrieve bodies.

Efforts were also being made to clear the main highway from Yangon to Mawlamyine, buried under up to six feet of earth and rocks.

Heavy monsoonal downpours have forced rivers to burst their banks.

Coastal communities have been warned of the danger posed by high tides.

Many people are seeking refuge from the floods. According to officials say at least 30,000 people, mainly in Bago region and Mon and Karen states have fled their homes.

The UN's Office for Coordinated Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated around 89,000 people have been displaced in recent weeks, although many have since been able to return home.

Additional reporting by AFP