The death toll from a landslide triggered by monsoon rains in eastern Myanmar has risen to 41, officials said, as emergency workers continued searching through the mud for the scores more feared missing.
A huge brown gash on the hillside marked where the deluge of mud descended on Ye Pyar Kone village in Mon state on Friday, wiping out at least 27 homes.
Search and rescue teams worked through Friday night and into Saturday with excavators and their bare hands, trying to find survivors and recover bodies from the deep sludge.
“The death toll has risen to 41,” township administrator Zaw Moe Aung told AFP late on Saturday.
So far, 47 people have been injured while officials believe that about 80 people could still be missing.
Aerial photographs of Ye Pyar Kone showed the broken remnants of rooftops and other debris from the houses strewn next to trucks knocked over by the force of the mudslide.
Its hillside temple was left inundated, with only the pagoda’s golden spire peeking out from beneath the mud.
Htay Htay Win, 32, told AFP news agency that two of her daughters and five other relatives had still not been found.
She only survived because she had left her home minutes earlier to look at the flooding nearby.
“I heard a huge noise and turned around to see my home being hit by mud,” she said, crying.
Tin Htay described how he and his family managed to escape when the landslide hit his house, and his efforts to rescue others trapped by the mud.
“I dragged a woman and two children from a car but I could not reach two other people, so I had to leave them,” the 30-year-old said.
Myanmar is battered annually by a monsoon season which strikes countries across Southeast Asia, leaving tens of thousands displaced from flooded homes and setting off deadly landslides.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that monsoon flooding had displaced more than 7,000 people this week in Mon state.
Apart from the landslide in Paung, houses and a school in other townships were washed away, roads were blocked and villages were submerged.
Nearly 12,000 people have been displaced in Myanmar this week alone, bringing the total number of those in evacuation centres to more than 38,000, the UN said.
Vietnam has also experienced heavy flooding this week, with at least eight people killed in the country’s central highlands and rescuers using a zip line to carry dozens of others to safety.