Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Death rates soar amid heatwave

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Daily death rates in Rangoon, Mandalay, and Magway Divisions towns have more than doubled this month amid a record-breaking heatwave, according to charity funeral services. 

Most whom died because of heatstroke in Mandalay were in their 30s and 50s, amid a death-rate increase that more than doubled over the average daily rate of earlier months this year, free funeral service Nirvana Thukha general secretary Kyaw Shwin told Mizzima. 

“In previous months, more than 40 people a day were cremated at Taung Myint cemetery, but the rate has increased to more than 150,”  Kyaw Shwin said. “Many of those were old people and middle-aged alcoholics who died as a result of heatstroke.” 

In previous months this year more than 20 people were cremated at Kyarnikan cemetery, the other of the two cemeteries in Mandalay, but this month around 70 were sent for cremation, he said. 

Among the more than 40 free funeral services in Mandalay, Nirvana Thukha’s usual responsibility of three daily services on average, rose to 15 this month. 

From the second week of this month, the charity has sent a daily total of more than 15 people suffering from dizziness or emergency patients with heatstroke to Mandalay General Hospital, Kyaw Shwin said.

A similar service in Magway Division, Good Friends of Yaynanchaung Township, usually handled four cremations a day, but this month the number had also risen to 15, the service team said.

Furthermore, the army and the township’s peace and development council on Saturday had warned Good Friends against releasing such to death tolls to the representatives of the foreign press, according to an anonymous source. 

Elsewhere, the Thukha charity funeral service in Rangoon had also seen a rise in its death toll, with an increase of around 60 per cent on the number of funerals it had accepted compared with the number during previous months this year, said charity chairman Kyaw Thu, a former film star. 

“We [usually] manage between 40 and 50 deceased individuals a day  … but this month an average of 70 people a day had to be cremated,” Kyaw Thu told Mizzima. “Some … were cremated immediately because the Yayway Mortuary is full.” 

There are seven private free funeral services in Rangoon. Among them are the city’s team, one run by the United Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and Thukha, which is considered the most effective.

“Some old people couldn’t take the very high temperatures … People with existing health conditions also died because of heatstroke,” Kyaw Thu said. “Some taxi drivers and trishaw [three-wheeled bicycle taxi] riders had to work under the sun’s burning rays and died while resting after work.” 

Because of record high temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius in Magway after Thingyan (Burmese traditional water festival), workloads at the Byamaso free funeral service in the city of Minbu had increased around 275 per cent, a spokesman said.

“Many people died of heatstroke. In the past we had a daily average of four funeral services, but today we have had to cremate 11 people, even before the evening”, the spokesman told Mizzima.


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