Myanmar officials say 85,000 people forced to flee after severe flooding

At least 85,000 people in Myanmar have fled their homes after the worst flooding in years submerged hundreds of thousands of acres (hectares) of rice fields, a government relief official said Saturday.

Heavy rains over the last few weeks caused the inundation, which has primarily affected the country's southern delta region, said Soe Tun, a member of the government's emergency response team.

Around 70,000 people have been displaced in the delta and are being housed at 219 emergency relief centers that have been set up at schools and monasteries, he said. Another 15,000 people are displaced elsewhere in the country, with a total of more than 600,000 acres (240,00 hectares) of rice fields swamped.

Flooding in the region often occurs during annual monsoon rains, and this year's are the heaviest recorded since 2004, Soe Tun said.

The delta region was devastated in 2008, though, by Cyclone Nargis, which killed about 130,000 people and destroyed more than 800,000 homes and buildings.

No casualties have been confirmed during the recent floods, which have affected 200,000 people nationwide whose fields have been swamped with water. Soe Tun said some families that have not fled have moved to the upper floors of their dwellings.

Local newspapers have reported that heavy rains and flooding have also damaged bridges, homes and rail lines.