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Myanmar braces for rain, wind as storm hits southwest coast

Myanmar braces for rain, wind as storm hits southwest coast

BANGKOK (AP) — Parts of Myanmar experienced heavy rain and winds Tuesday as a seasonal storm characterized as a deep depression made landfall along the country’s southwestern coast.

The state meteorology department announced that the center of the storm on Tuesday afternoon reached the city of Pathein, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of the country's biggest city of Yangon, after earlier passing over Hainggyikyun island at the mouth of the Pathein River.

The storm was expected to weaken as it continued to move northward, said the department, which noted that the maximum wind speed in the delta reached estimated 72-80 kilometers per hour (45-50 miles per hour), and 56-64 kph (35-40 mph) in Yangon.

Though the storm had not reached the intensity of a cyclone, warnings were issued of possible flash floods and landslides in coastal areas, as residents stocked up on essential supplies.

A fisherman from Bogale township, east of Hainggyikyun, said there was strong wind and rain but nothing seriously threatening.

“Banana and papaya trees in my backyard were blown down by strong winds this morning,” Hla Myint told The Associated Press. He said a storm surge had caused flooding about knee-deep in his village.

Seasonal cyclones are a severe threat in the region. In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar with a storm surge that devastated populated areas around the Irrawaddy River delta. At least 138,000 people died and tens of thousands of homes and other buildings were washed away.