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September 23, 2019

Help flood victims with empathy and benevolence

  • There has been loss to life and property and disruption of transport services in some areas in Mon State in the southern part of Myanmar on account of torrential rains, which have triggered floods and landslides in the area.
    The most unfortunate tragedy occurred on 9 August in Thae Byu Gon Village in Paung Township, where over 50 people were killed and nearly 30 injured in a landslide. Some persons are still missing after the disaster. Here, empathy and benevolence have been the main driving force behind the search and rescue missions and treatment, care, and transport of the wounded.
    Natural disasters have no timetable, and they know no boundaries. They always come without a warning.
    So, the only thing we can do is be prepared for them. Broader public awareness on natural disasters will save more lives in case any catastrophe breaks out. For instance, landslides usually occur in a variety of environments, characterized by either steep or gentle slope or gradient, especially near an elevation or mountain ranges. We can prevent such landslides through tree plantations on the slopes as trees help protect soil layers. In some cases, we may need to build retaining walls to prevent soil erosion or earthflows.
    People living near hills or slopes must build awareness on landslides, and get a ground assessment done on their property. Ideally, people must refrain from building a home near steep slopes, close to mountain edges, near drainage systems, or natural erosion valleys.
    Normally, the warning signs of a landslide are: new cracks or unusual bulges appearing on the ground, street pavements, or sidewalks; soil moving away from foundations; ancillary structures such as decks and patios tilting and/or moving relative to the main house; tilting or cracking of concrete floors and foundations; broken water lines and other underground utilities; leaning telephone poles, trees, retaining walls, or fences; offset fence lines; and sunken or down-dropped road beds. It is important that people leave a place as soon as they notice these warning signs.
    We know that heavy rains, floods, and earthquakes are the causes of landslides. Landslides are accompanied by other hazards, such as an increased risk of electrocution. When a landslide strikes, people must be on the alert and help victims, and be aware of how idle bystanders and mobile photographers can hamper search and rescue operations.
    Search, rescue, and help are the most important measures during and in the aftermath of a land avalanche. Only a quick and effective response can mitigate the suffering and pain of the victims, and such a reaction calls for preparedness, capability building, and proper management along with empathy and benevolence.
    As this cannot be done single-handedly, people need to cooperate and work with officials. Through prevention and preparation, the impact of natural disasters can be mitigated, reducing the loss of lives and properties.

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