Myanmar landslide kills 34, leaves scores missing

The death toll from a landslide triggered by monsoon rains in eastern Myanmar has risen to 34, as emergency workers continue to search through the mud for the scores more feared missing. 

Rescue workers search for bodies with as many as 80 feared missing Ann Wang/Reuters

“We found 34 dead and the search for dead bodies is still ongoing,” local administrator Myo Min Tun said on Saturday.

Officials believe more than 80 people could still be missing.

A huge brown gash on the hillside marked where the deluge of mud descended on Ye Pyar Kone village in Mon state on Friday, wiping out at least 16 homes.

Search and rescue teams worked through the night with excavators and their bare hands, trying to find survivors and recover bodies from the deep sludge.

Aerial photographs showed the 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, with only the pagoda’s golden spire peeking out from beneath the mud.

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

She only survived because she had left her home minutes earlier to look at the flooding nearby.

“I heard a huge noise and turned around to see my home being hit by mud,” she said, crying.

Burst riverbanks, buried highways

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 six feet 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 the 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. 

Some 89,000 people have been displaced by floods in recent weeks, although many have since been able to return home, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs.

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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