Myawaddy floods: witnesses claim death toll could be as high as 32

Myawaddy Town residents claim that at least 32 people died in floods last week when four days of heavy rains caused the Moei River to breech its banks. The floodwaters swamped the Thai border town of Mae Sot and the Burma border town of Myawaddy.

Government official figures put the flood related deaths at three, a Myawaddy resident, who asked to remain anonymous told Karen News that he believed the death toll is much higher.

“I believe that the number of people who died is much higher than the government has said.”

Phone calls by Karen News to the Myawaddy authorities and emergency services, in an attempt to verify the death toll caused by the floods were not answered.

The Myawaddy resident counted out for Karen News the incidents that he believed accounted for the deaths.

“There were 17 people a boat that sank, another seven people were washed away by the flood while they were at hut on their farm and there were eight bodies found in a backyard garden toward the lower part of the Moei River. These are only some figures that we can confirm and I am sure there will be more.”

The resident added that he is not convinced by the government death toll, as he witnessed much of the devastation caused by the flood. The resident alleges that the authorities could have done more to warn and prepare residents of the floodwater dangers.

“There was no official warning for the people about the flood. The government officials are responsible for warning civilians on issues like this. People might have evacuated if they were warned.”

A second Myawaddy resident, who spoke to Karen News on condition that his name would not be used said that two bodies were found in a hotel room and they knew of a person from the town’s section 1 who had disappeared.

Residents claim that information coming out of the Myawaddy Town during the flood has been limited as many of the areas phone lines were down and mobile phones were unusable due to electricity cuts. Traveling in the area was at a standstill due to landslides and floods. Karen News spoke to a number of Myawaddy residents and was consistently told that a high number of flood deaths had occurred.

Myawaddy residents accused government officials of trying to control negative news on the flood, covering up information about the high death tolls and the extent of the flood damage.

Karen News was also told that villagers located on the banks of the upper Moei River who were badly affected by the floods are in urgent need of emergency assistance, mainly food and clean drinking water.

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