Rescues and evacuations in Bago Region after a dam breach, August 2018.
© Myanmar Fire Service
Rescues and evacuations in Bago Region after a dam breach, August 2018.
Monsoon rains have caused a dam in Myanmar to overflow, inundating the nearby township of Swar and surrounding villages in Bago region.

At least 50,000 people are thought to have evacuated their homes after the Swar irrigation dam was breached during the early hours of 29 August, 2018, according to Reuters.

Images on social media show teams from fire services and military helping to evacuate people from flooded areas. Myanmar Fire Service said they were using boats to carry out search and rescue operations. Some unconfirmed reports suggested that there have been some fatalities.

The dam break also caused flooding on the Yangon - Mandalay highway after a bridge was severely damaged.




High river levels

Over the last few days the Department of Disaster Management in Myanmar has warned of high river levels in the region, including the Sittoung (Sittang) River at Taungoo, around 40 km south of Swar, and Madauk, some 160 km south of Swar.

Rescues and evacuations in Bago Region after a dam breach, August 2018.
© Myanmar Fire Service
Rescues and evacuations in Bago Region after a dam breach, August 2018.
Monsoon flooding

The breach comes after heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding and landslides from mid-July, with Bago Region one of the worst affected. By late July, at least 11 people had died and 120,000 people displaced.

The death toll has since increased to 16. At one point the number of displaced increased to 149,000. As of 02 August, 122,500 people were still displaced, with 94,000 of them in Bago Region.

Dam failures

The incident at the Swar dam is the fourth major dam failure in recent months.

Parts of Laos were badly affected in July this year when heavy rainfall caused the collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam under construction in Sanamxay District of Attapeu province, that left at least 35 dead and many more still missing.

In Colombia, the government in Antioquia department, Colombia, declared a Public Calamity after the Hidroituango Dam on the Cauca river threatened to collapse.

On 12 May, a sudden release of water from the dam flooded municipalities of Puerto Valdivia and Taraza down stream, forcing around 600 people to evacuate their homes. By 23 May, further evacuations had been carried out in Puerto Valdivia and the municipalities of Puerto Antioquia, Cáceres and Tarazá, with the total number disaplced at around 25,000.

In Kenya, the Patel Dam in Solai, Subukia Sub-County, Nakuru County, broke its banks on 09 May, 2018, killing at least 38 people.

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