Mon State Landslide Claims at Least 41 Lives

At least 169 villagers—including entire families—have disappeared in the disaster.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

At least 33 people have died in a landslide that hit the village of Thae Phyu Kon in Mon State’s Poung Township on Friday morning. As of late Saturday, 47 people have been rescued alive, while the bodies of 41 others, including one monk, have so far been recovered.

A senior state government official confirmed the casualty figures but declined to say how many more may have lost their lives in the disaster.

“Many cars disappeared, but I don’t know how many exactly. I can’t confirm the exact number of missing people. All I can confirm is the list of casualties,” Zin Min Ko, the deputy director of the Mon State government, told NMG.

A Poung Township General Administration Department (GAD) officer said that 169 Thae Phyu Kon villagers were known to be missing, but added that the total number of missing was likely much higher, as many of the victims were from other areas.

“I can’t predict the exact number. We have recovered some bodies, but we can’t say what the final count will be because there were many vehicles stopped on the highway [where the landslide occurred] due to flooding in Mottama,” GAD officer Zaw Moe Aung told NMG.

“The landslide occurred while all these vehicles were stuck on the highway. Stones and earth covered many of them. One loaded truck was pushed 50 feet and many small cars were also hit, most of them with passengers inside. So I just can’t say at this stage what the total number of casualties will be,” he added.

In addition to vehicles, 27 houses and a monastery were also hit when the landslide, which was triggered by heavy rain, occurred at around 7am on August 9.

According to Zaw Moe Aung, firefighters and other first responders were carrying out the rescue effort under the coordination of local authorities.

Heavy equipment was being used to dig through the wreckage, he said, adding that a 200-meter stretch of the upper part of the highway and a 400-meter stretch of the lower part were completely covered by mud.

According to local residents, entire families disappeared in the disaster.

The Mawlamyine-Yangon highway was closed until Friday night as mud from the landslide was cleared.

According to the Mon State government, a landslide also occurred in Mangyi, a village in Ye Township, on August 9, killing one person and injuring six others.