KALAY, Burma (AP) — Burma’s president has 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 Sunday from Kalay town in Sagaing division in northwestern Burma (Myanmar), where two weeks of rain 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.
A report issued Saturday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs cited Burma 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.
Officials said the heavy rains have devastated several townships and forcing more than 18,000 people into temporary shelters
On Saturday, local officials reported nine more deaths, most of them from a boat that capsized in Kachin. They said seven townships had been devastated by flooding.
President Thein Sein visited Kalay township in Sagaing region, one of the four regions that was declared disaster zones on Friday.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited one of the country’s many flood-afflicted areas Monday, raising her profile amid a national disaster that could have consequences in this November’s general election.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement announced Monday that the death toll from flooding has climbed to 46, with more than 200,000 people affected in 11 out of the country’s 14 states and divisions.
(READ MORE: Monsoon rains kill more than 90 people in India)