Thousands flee flooding as Myanmar dam bursts

Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes Wednesday when a dam burst in central Myanmar, sending floodwater pouring into nearby villages.

One person died and six people were believed to be missing as of Thursday, according to Kyaw Kyaw, an official who represents Yadeshe in Bago Division’s regional parliament.

A breach of the Swar irrigation dam’s spillway at 4 a.m. on Wednesday local time (6 p.m. Tuesday evening ET) sent water gushing into Swar, Yadeshe, and nearby villages.

Kyaw Kyaw added that some people had started to return home as the flood water had subsided and that local authorities were turning their attention to rehabilitation.

The commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing, posted pictures Wednesday of himself at the dam site using the Russian social network VK. Facebook on Monday announced it was removing his account, along with other government and civilian pages in connection with ethnic violence against Rohingya Muslims.

Commuters between Mandalay, in central Myanmar, and Yangon reported highway closures because of the flooding.

A bridge on a major highway linking Myanmar’s major cities of Yangon, Mandalay and the capital, Naypyitaw, was damaged by the floods, Reuters reported. The floodwaters have also caused damage to railroads, halting some train services.

Heavy annual monsoon rains have already brought flooding to other parts of the country and the region.

A dam in neighboring Laos collapsed last month, causing flash-flooding across six villages and displacing thousands of people.