Flooding in Myanmar: Is it safe to travel?
Date of Report: Thursday, 30 August 2018
Incident Date/Time: 29 AUG 2018 (GMT +8hrs)
Reporting on 29 August 2018 has revealed a spillway on the Swar Creek Bridge / Swa Chaung Bridge in Bago Region has collapsed. Available reports at this time indicate over 60,000 have been evacuated from this Southern region of the country. Media reporting has claimed there have been fatalities, but this is unconfirmed (Burma Rivers Network 2018; The Nation 2018).
The collapse of the spillway had halted vehicle movement across the bridge, causing major delays to vehicle movement on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway. However, available open source reports indicate the bridge was reopened at 15:30hrs (Myanmar) on Wednesday 29 August 2018 after nine hours of repair work. In addition to the damage to the bridge and delays for vehicle movement no trains have been running to Central or Upper Myanmar except on the Yangon-Taungoo and Mandalay-Pyinmana routes because infrastructure including track foundations had been damaged, particularly in Yedashe Township (Burma Rivers Network 2018; The Nation 2018).
COMMENT: Examining available imagery of the Swar township, the location of nearby river systems and the nearby section of the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway indicates the location of the Swar Creek Bridge / Swa Chaung Bridge is in vicinity of 19°12’01.9″N 96°15’16.1″E (McCabe & Harrington 2018).
According to media reporting, the expressway is vital for transportation and logistics services between Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Taungoo, Magwe, Meikhtila, Taunggyi, Myingyan, Bagan, Nyaung Oo, Monywa, Sagaing and Pyin Oo Lwin. Blockages anywhere on the expressway can result in unavoidable delays (The Nation 2018).
Furthermore, current travel advice for Myanmar indicates Myanmar’s monsoon season is from May to October; heavy rains can cause flooding and landslides. Available weather forecasts for the Bago region indicate the next five days will feature either rain and or thunderstorms. Given the current monsoon season, more damage could be a possibility (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2018; AccuWeather 2018). COMMENT ENDS.
ASSESSMENT: Confidence Levels
|Less than 50% chance||50% chance or greater||75% chance or greater||95% chance or greater|
Considering the reported impacts of the flood from the spillway collapse, the current season in Myanmar and the available weather forecast, it is PROBABLE that weather conditions over the next five days will pose a risk of repeated flood damage again to this bridge and POSSIBLY on any other bridges on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway. The large number of people evacuate make it POSSIBLE a humanitarian situation may begin to develop.
Given the vital access this highway appears to provide between Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Taungoo, Magwe, Meikhtila, Taunggyi, Myingyan, Bagan, Nyaung Oo, Monywa, Sagaing and Pyin Oo Lwin as well as the lack of an alternative route, vehicle travel on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway in the Bago region of Myanmar carries an increased risk of being affected by floods at this time.
Overall, non-essential travel to or through the Bago region would best be avoided at this point in time.
AccuWeather 2018, ‘Weather in Bago – AccuWeather Forecast for Bago Myanmar’, AccuWeather, retrieved August 30, 2018, from <https://www.accuweather.com/en/mm/bago/241847/daily-weather-forecast/241847>.
Burma Rivers Network, S 2018, ‘Dam Breach Floods Communities in Central Burma, Blocks Highway’, Burma Rivers Network, retrieved August 30, 2018, from <https://www.burmariversnetwork.org/news/dam-breach-floods-communities-in-central-burma-blocks-highway.html>.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2018, ‘Myanmar’, Smart Traveller, retrieved August 30, 2018, from <https://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/asia/south-east/Pages/myanmar.aspx>.
McCabe, M & Harrington, D 2018, ‘Intelligence Fusion Platform’, Intelligence Fusion, retrieved August 30, 2018, from <https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/>.
The Nation 2018, ‘Dam collapse in Central Myanmar displaces 63,000 people’, The Nation, retrieved August 30, 2018, from <http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/asean-plus/30353329>.