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Floods and landslides in southern Myanmar – at least 41 dead

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PHOTOS: SBS News

The latest in the flood situation in southern Myanmar…

• Continuous monsoon rain since the start of the month has resulted to flooding in several areas in Southern Myanmar – Ayeyarwady, Bago, Kayin, Mon, and Tanintharyi.

• According to the Department of Disaster Management, a rain-induced landslide occurred in a village in Paung Township (Mon State) on Friday. Search & Rescue operations has so far recovered 41 dead bodies, and believed another 41 are still missing. Rescued injured residents are immediately sent to hospitals for medical care.

• Department of Disaster Management is providing relief and cash assistance to affected families. In addition, key Government officials (including the Vice President) inspected the ongoing Search & Rescue operations in the landslide area today, and visited affected families in several areas to provide encouragement and assistance.

• Initial impact data estimates at least 46,000 were displaced across Southern Myanmar due to the flooding, and at least 4,000 houses were damaged. Several bridges and roads were also damaged, further adding challenge to the ongoing disaster response operations. Damage assessment and data gathering is continuously being conducted.

• The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology forecasts that water level conditions in Shwegyin River at Shwegyin township (Bago Region) and Thanlwin River at Hpaan township (Kayin State) might reach dangerous water levels again tomorrow morning. Moreover, rain forecast models suggest continuation of monsoon rain over the next three days in Mon and Tanintharyi.

• AHA Centre is continuously monitoring the event, and will issue updates should there be any significant development.

Updated information from Relief Web

Floods and landslides in southern Myanmar - at least 41 dead | News by The Thaiger

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Myanmar

113 bodies recovered in Myanmar jade mine mudslide

Jack Burton

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113 bodies recovered in Myanmar jade mine mudslide | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Fire Services Department Handout

At least 113 are dead after a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar. The Myanmar Fire Services Department says that the incident took place early today in the jade-rich Hpakant district of the northern Kachin state after a heavy rainfall. Photos in the post showed a search and rescue team wading through a valley apparently flooded by the mudslide.

“The jade miners were smothered by a wave of mud. A total of 113 bodies have been found so far.”

“Now we recovered more than 100 bodies,” a local official with the information ministry told Reuters by phone, “Other bodies are in the mud. The numbers are going to rise.”

Fatal landslides are common in the poorly regulated mines of Hpakant, the victims often from impoverished communities who risk their lives hunting the translucent green gemstone.

A 38 year old miner who witnessed the incident says he spotted a tall pile of waste that appeared to be on the verge of collapse and was about to take a picture when people began shouting “Run, run!”

“Within a minute, all the people at the bottom of the hill just disappeared. I feel empty in my heart. I still have goose bumps… There were people stuck in the mud shouting for help but no one could help them.”

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government promised to clean up the industry when it took power in 2016, but activists say little has changed.

Official sales of jade in Myanmar were worth $750 million US dollars (23.3 billion baht) in 2016-2017, according to data published by the government. Experts say the true value of the industry, which mainly exports to China, is much larger.

Northern Myanmar’s abundant natural resources – including jade, timber, gold and amber – have also helped finance both sides of a decades long civil war between ethnic Kachin and the military. The fight to control the mines and the money they bring frequently traps locals in the middle.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera | Newsvoice

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Crime

Billions in illicit drugs burned in Thailand and Myanmar

Jack Burton

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Billions in illicit drugs burned in Thailand and Myanmar | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AP

In a joint operation, authorities in Thailand and Myanmar destroyed 25 tonnes of illicit drugs valued at more than 62 billion baht (US$2 billion) in Ayutthaya and Yangon. The move comes as drug cartels in the Golden Triangle boost supplies and seek new channels of distribution. The Golden Triangle, where Laos, northern Myanmar and Thailand meet, has been a hub of illicit drug traffic for decades. Authorities say production there is now taking place on an industrial scale.

In Ayutthaya, about 80 kilometres north of Bangkok, Thai authorities marked International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with a mass burning of drugs. Police guarded boxes of drugs unloaded from trucks while bricks of heroin and bags stuffed with methamphetamine pills, known as “yaba,” were thrown into dumpsters for incineration. In Yangon, meanwhile, plumes of black smoke filled the sky as sacks full of drugs were set ablaze. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.

Thai authorities say Covid-19 travel restrictions and checkpoints helped reduce smuggling, but the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said last month that the trade continues to thrive. Thailand’s deputy national police chief says drug criminals are getting more creative, and the internet is becoming a growing outlet for the illicit drug trade.

“Our children are making the wrong decision to order narcotic drugs online. And the dealers send the drugs to them.”

Rising heroin use among young people is among several worrying trends. Though opium cultivation and heroin refining have dropped, methamphetamine production in Myanmar’s northern regions has increased dramatically, with armed ethnic groups collaborating with organised crime elements. Thailand is used mainly as a conduit and distribution point, with some drugs sold domestically, but most smuggled onward.

Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative, says online drug sales represent a worrying trend, with an oversupply of meth pushing prices down and adding to more drug abuse.

“Above all we are looking now at an increase in drug availability. Very dangerous. Frankly speaking, Myanmar has become the transit place of narcotic drug distribution to Europe and Asia.”

SOURCE: Reuters

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Crime

Military weapons seized near Burmese border

Jack Burton

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Military weapons seized near Burmese border | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New Indian Express

Police in the Mae Sot district of the Tak province, near the Burmese border, have seized a massive cache of military weapons, including 33 M16 and AK47 assault rifles, M79 grenade launchers and PK general purpose machine guns, together with a large quantity of ammunition of different calibers. 2 Thai men were arrested, but no details were available as to where.

Thailand’s national police chief says that he suspects the weapons were intended for use by ill-intentioned elements which, according to intelligence reports, have been plotting to stir political unrest in the region. He declined to speculate or identify any specific political groups, saying the matter is under investigation by authorities.

He has ordered police in all areas, particularly in 10 provinces, including Chiang Mai, Phrae, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ayutthaya and Khon Kaen, to keep a close watch on political movements today, the 88th anniversary of the transformation from absolute monarchy to to constitutional monarchy, saying he worries that there will be gatherings as a symbolic gesture.

Past reports of arms seizures in Mae Sot, as well as other districts bordering Myanmar, appear to show that most of the weapons are actually smuggled from Cambodia by traffickers, for sale at huge profits to Burmese rebel groups based along the porous border between Thailand and Myanmar.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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