Death toll rises as monsoon rains batter Southeast Asia | News | DW | 01.08.2015
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Death toll rises as monsoon rains batter Southeast Asia

Torrential rains in Southeast Asia have decimated thousands of homes and fields. The death toll across India and Myanmar is rising as emergency services fight against the elements to reach those in need.

Rescue efforts to reach victims in Myanmar's worst-hit areas faced further obstacles over the weekend as monsoon rains pushed the government's limited relief operations to breaking point.

According to Myanmar's Social Welfare Ministry, all but one of the country's 14 provinces and regions have now been affected.

'Huge destruction'

Flash floods, rising waters and landslides have destroyed around 150,000 homes and fields, forcing thousands of people to flee to monasteries in an attempt to find shelter.

Western Rakhine and Chin states are among the four worst affected areas. An announcement signed by President Thein Sein on Friday said these areas had seen "huge destruction and face difficulty returning to normal conditions."

Disrupted communications on Saturday also meant there was no update on Thursday's death toll of 27.

Deadly landslide

Similar scenes of natural destruction were also seen in neighboring India on Saturday. At least 21 people were feared dead after torrential monsoon rains triggered a mudslide in Joumol, a village in Manipur state, close to India's border with Myanmar.

According to police officer Herojit Singh, three days of heavy rain had cut off roads leading to the remote, mountainous, northeast region - preventing police reinforcements from reaching stranded victims.

Rescuers were instead planning to use helicopters to land in the area after daybreak on Sunday.

UN dispatched

Every year from June through September, both Myanmar and India face torrential rains. The weather patterns are key to the region's agriculture, but they can be deadly for the thousands of people caught up in landslides and powerful cyclones.

A United Nations (UN) representative said on Saturday that assessment teams had been dispatched to the worst-hit areas to identify immediate relief priorities.

ksb/gsw (AFP, AP)

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