A dam collapsed in Myanmar's central Bago region Wednesday following heavy monsoon rains, displacing tens of thousands and killing at least four, as AFP reported that ministry officials confirmed Friday.
"According to the information we got as of this morning, four people were killed and three went missing during the floods," Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement director Phyu Lei Lei Tun said, according to AFP.
The breach occurred in the Swar Chaung dam's spillway at 4 a.m. Wednesday and flooded Swar, Yadeshe and neighboring villages, CNN reported.
Flooding affected at least 85 villages and displaced more than 63,000 people, Reuters reported.
The breach also damaged a bridge on the highway linking the major cities of Yangon and Mandalay and the capital, Naypyitaw, disrupting traffic.
Residents had expressed concerns about the level of water in the dam's reservoir, but officials assured them it was safe just days before the collapse.
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation official Kaung Myat Thein said that there was no way to predict a spillway collapse, according to Reuters.
"We could not know one day before, one hour before," he said.
Kaung Myat Thein said that the ministry was working to get as much water into the reservoir as possible before the dry season began and would investigate the cause of the breach.
But as the ministry works to recover water for irrigation, some farmers say their fields are flooded beyond easy repair.
Zaw Zaw, a 45-year-old farmer in the village of Oo Yin Hmu, told Reuters it would be years before rice could be planted in the inundated paddy fields of his village.
"All of my farmland is turned into mud now. I don't have land or anything else anymore. I don't know what to do," fellow villager Pan Ei Phyu told Reuters.
Kyaw Kyaw, who represents the affected town of Yadeshe in Bago Division's regional parliament, said that some people were beginning to return home and that the local government was focusing on rehabilitation, CNN reported.
Others were still stranded in flood waters and the military attempted to rescue them Friday, AFP reported.
Phyu Lei Lei Tun said that more than 36,000 people were living in 68 temporary, elevated shelters, according to AFP.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
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By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
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