Attempts to put out a huge blaze in Htein Bin rubbish dump have left experts asking why basic safeguards and control measures were not employed
A pale haze still lingers over Yangon’s Hlaingthaya Township, where the sprawling Htein Bin landfill burned for 14 days. For many residents of the township – one of Myanmar’s poorest and most populous – life continues as usual: mothers feed their babies in small huts on the fringes of the dump; packs of dogs roam the plastic wasteland, searching for something edible among the soft-drink bottles.
Hlaingthaya residents say the dump catches fire most years, but the blazes have never been this big or lasted so long. More than two dozen people were hospitalised for smoke inhalation and injuries linked to the fire between 20 April, when it broke out, and 3 May, when authorities finally declared the situation under control.