Myanmar's president urged people to leave a low-lying southern delta region on 6 August with rain water flowing into the area as rivers reached dangerously high levels. The widespread floods, triggered last week by heavy monsoon rains, have killed 81 people, according to Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

About 6.2m people, 12% of Myanmar's population, live in the region, a south west area where the Ayeyarwady and other rivers branch out into a delta leading to the sea. Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, has not experienced flooding, despite being near the delta .

In Nyaungdon, a town in the Ayeyarwady region, villages were flooded so badly that only roofs of buildings were visible above the water. One flooding victim said he feared the water would continue to rise.

"The water has been rising everyday and has flooded everything. I don't know what is going on. This has never happened before. It rises 3-4 feet a day and is still rising," said Tin Win, a farmer in the region.

"During previous floods, people could stay in their houses. They could use boats to go everywhere. This year is difficult for both the people and animals. We cannot feed them," said Htay Lwin, the head of a village.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, 101,000 acres of paddy in the Ayeyarwady region have been flooded, but just 180 acres were destroyed.

Countrywide, the impact on agriculture has been far greater. According to the ministry, 1.17m acres of paddy field have been flooded, with 152,500 acres destroyed.

The government appealed for international assistance on 3 August and supplies have started to arrive from abroad.

The call for help marked a change from 2008 when the then-military government shunned most outside aid after a cyclone killed 130,000 people, most in the same delta region.