KALAY, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's president on Sunday visited one of the worst-hit areas of the flood-stricken country, saying that water levels are slowly receding and that he hopes people can soon return to their homes.
President Thein Sein spoke from Kalay town in Sagaing division in northwestern Myanmar, where two weeks of rain has caused severe flooding, cutting off the area from land transport. He told state TV that the government plans to begin reconstruction once evacuated people return to their homes.
The TV report also showed flood victims gathered at a Buddhist monastery, where they were handed aid items.
A report issued Saturday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs cited Myanmar disaster officials estimating that more than 156,000 people had been affected by flooding. It added that at least 27 people had died due to flooding last month, and that the numbers were likely to rise.
The U.N. report said there was a shortage of information from the coastal state of Rakhine, which was hit by a fierce tropical storm at the end of last week. "Initial reports indicate that there is extensive damage to shelters and other infrastructure in camps around Sittwe, where some 100,000 displaced people are staying," the report said, referring to the state's capital.
"The U.N. and international humanitarian organizations have offered their support and are already working closely with the Myanmar authorities at local, State, and Union levels to assess urgent needs and are providing support to the humanitarian response," said a statement issued by Eamonn Murphy, the U.N's. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.
"We have dispatched assessment teams to the most affected areas to evaluate the humanitarian situation and identify priorities in terms of water and sanitation, shelter, food, and other relief items," Murphy said.