'Everything is gone': 41 dead, dozens missing after Myanmar landslide

August 11, 2019 | 09:50
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The death toll from a landslide triggered by monsoon rains in eastern Myanmar rose to at least 41, an official said late Saturday (Aug 10), as emergency workers continued for a second night their desperate search through thick mud for the scores feared missing.
everything is gone 41 dead dozens missing after myanmar landslide
Search and rescue teams worked through the night trying to find survivors and recover bodies from the deep sludge AFP/Ye Aung THU

A huge brown gash on the hillside marked where the deluge of mud flooded onto Ye Pyar Kone village in Mon state on Friday, wiping out 27 homes.

Search and rescue teams worked through Friday night and into late Saturday, using excavators and their bare hands to recover bodies from the deep sludge.

"The death toll has risen to 41," township administrator Zaw Moe Aung told AFP on Saturday.

Some farm animals, like cows and goats, were found alive, but "there are no humans left alive," he said, adding that the search operations will push through for a second night.

So far, 47 people have been left injured while officials believe that more than 80 people could still be missing.

Aerial pictures showed broken remnants of rooftops and other debris from the houses strewn next to trucks knocked over by the force of the mudslide.

The village's hillside temple was left inundated, leaving the pagoda's golden spire peeking out from beneath the mud.

Severe rainfall has pummeled southern Myanmar for days, causing flooding that has displaced at least 12,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Standing beside the ruins of her house, 35-year-old Nyo Nyo Win said, “This was my home. Now, everything is gone. We have nothing left.”

Nine members of her family were killed, including her son and father, she said.

First, lamp posts on the road started to fall off and then villagers ran toward their homes for fear of being electrocuted, she said.

“All the people who made it to their homes were buried, including my father and eight children who were at home. It happened so fast, just in seconds.”

Survivors were sent to a hospital in the nearest major town, Mawlamyine.

“First, I heard a 'boom' sound and I was under the mud,” said 35-year-old Phyo Ko Ko Oo.

His left leg was badly scraped as he struggled to free himself.

Chan Aye, 42, said he, his son and wife had been dragged to the river by the landslide.

“I hugged them as we were dragged along with the landslide,” he said.

Htay Htay Win, 32, told AFP that two of her daughters and five other relatives had still not been found.

"I heard a huge noise and turned round to see my home being hit by the mud," she said, crying.

Rescue workers spent Saturday morning loading bodies wrapped in plastic onto the back of flatbed trucks as worried villagers looked on.

Tin Htay described how he and his family managed to escape when the landslide hit his house and his efforts to rescue others trapped by the mud.

"I dragged a woman and two children from a car but I could not reach two other people, so I had to leave them," the 30-year-old said.

Emergency crews had to unblock the main highway from Yangon to Mawlamyine, buried under 6 ft of sludge.

Torrential downpours have burst riverbanks across the country while coastal communities have been warned of higher tides.

In the town of Shwegyin in eastern Bago region, residents waded out through waist-deep waters or waited to be rescued by boat after the Sittaung river burst its banks, swallowing entire homes.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that houses and a school have been washed away in other townships affected by the flooding.

More heavy rainfall is expected in the coming days.

Vietnam has also experienced heavy flooding this week with at least eight people killed in the country's central highlands and rescuers using a zipline to carry dozens of others to safety.


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