Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jade Tycoons Distribute Food, Water To Flood Victims

In the aftermath of floods in the Uru River and landslides, jade tycoons are distributing much-needed food and drinking water to victims in Hpakant jade land in Burma's northern Kachin State, said local sources. Massive floods and landslides, one of the worst in recent memory, occurred on July 4 and 5.

The rescue and relief operations could start in the affected areas only after the floods subsided and the heavy downpour stopped on July 7, said residents of Hpakant.

Local Kachin jade tycoon Ze Lum and his colleagues are distributing rice and fried eggs, which are packed in one-time use plastic bags as well as one litre bottles of drinking water to hundreds of flood survivors and victims in Hpakant jade mining city, said residents of Hpakant.

According to local people, the Burmese military junta is yet to begin rescue and relief operations in the affected areas. The junta earns its third highest foreign exchange from gem, mainly from Hpakant jade mines but the victims and survivors of the floods and mudslides are being ignored by the regime, said locals.

Vehicular traffic has ground to a halt between Hpakant and areas outside jade land because the road has been blocked by landslides in three places between Nam Ya and Lonkin, also called Lawng Hkang in Kachin, according to travellers.

Only motorcycles can cross the landslide hit areas and travel to Hpakant. But motorcycle owners have to pay 30,000 Kyat per vehicle as carrier fee at every landslide block, said travellers.

Eyewitnesses said they saw a bulldozer yesterday on the Hpakant Road heading towards the blockages between Nam Ya and Lonkin.

Residents of Hpakant said, Uru River, the main river in Hpakant jade land, inundated three major cities--- Hpakant, Seng Tawng and Lonkin but Nga-Pyaw-Taw, Kala Jawng, Kalat Kone and Maw One quarters in Hpakant were the most severely affected by floods and mudslides.

In Kala Jawng quarter in Hpakant, almost entire houses in the quarters with over 60 homes, except one wooden two-storeyed house were wiped out by the flood waters on July 4, said local people.

The death toll according to the City Administrative Office or City Peace and Development Council of the junta, is over 100.

Following the flood and the consequent shortage of clean water in Hpakant, many people are suffering from water-borne diseases like dysentery and cholera, a resident of Hpakant told KNG today.

An outsider cannot estimate the total number of dead, the number of victims and survivors in the flood affected areas because the roads have over three-feet of mud and slush, said locals.

The government hospital in Hpakant is full of injured people as well as patients suffering from dysentery, said residents

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