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Flooding in Myanmar forces thousands to flee

By Katie Hunt, for CNN
updated 4:54 AM EDT, Mon August 27, 2012
In hard-hit areas like Pathein in the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Myanmar, villages and rice fields were still under water on Sunday. In hard-hit areas like Pathein in the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Myanmar, villages and rice fields were still under water on Sunday.
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Myanmar floods
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Torrential rain in Myanmar has forced thousands to flee their homes
  • The Irrawaddy Delta region close to the capital Yangon worst hit
  • Two weeks of heavy monsoon rain caused the flooding

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Torrential rain in Myanmar has forced thousands to flee their homes and flooded hundreds of thousands of acres of rice paddies, media reports and aid workers say.

Two weeks of heavy monsoon rain caused the flooding, which has primarily affected the Irrawaddy Delta region close to the capital Yangon.

Around the port city of Pathein, 236,000 people had been affected, with 35,000 moved to temporary relief camps in schools, monasteries and churches, said Denis De Poerck, director of program operations for Save the Children in Myanmar.

He said the families that had not fled were living on the upper floors of their homes and long boats were the main form of transport.

Religious clashes devastate Myanmar

The government, private benefactors and the World Food Program had provided food rations to flood victims, he added.

"What people need now is non-food items -- clothing, cooking pots and utensils," he told CNN by telephone from Yangon.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar reported that President Thein Sein on Sunday visited Bago, another flood-hit area east of the capital, to provide assistance to some of the victims.

De Poerck added that the United Nations estimated that 200,000 acres of rice paddies had been destroyed and 55,000 acres remained under water. One acre is around the size of an American football field.

Myanmar often suffers from flooding during the monsoon season but in the areas assessed by Save the Children locals said the floods were the worst since 1997.

In 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar's southern delta region, killing 130,000 people.

Kocha Olarn in Bangkok and Nay Pyi Taw in Yangon contributed to this report

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