The Muse-Kutkai Pyidaungsu road was closed as sporadic clashes broke out nearby, a Kutkai traffic police officer said.
“The road has been closed since morning because there was gunfire nearby. A vehicle was stuck in the middle of the road, so traffic cannot move,” he said.
More than 70 schoolchildren at TEC Ta’ang Education Centre near Loi Sam Sip mountain took refuge from the fighting at Yadanar Tun Boarding School in Kutkai’s second ward.
The Tatmadaw has posted soldiers inside and outside of Kutkai, and the surrounding area has been quiet.
At Nam Phat Khar, about 40 kilometres from Kutkai, fighting raged until early afternoon, and trapped about 500 trucks, passenger buses and private cars that were headed to Muse.
“There are many watermelon trucks, as it is now harvest season. We must get to Muse as soon as possible while we have green goods, but the road is impassable due to fighting. We had to stop, as we were ordered,” said Ko Aung San, the driver of a truck carrying watermelons.
“We’ve been waiting here since seven in the morning, but the road is still blocked. It’s not new for us. It has happened before,” said another driver on the Lashio-Muse road.
As the road had been blocked since six in the morning, people aboard the stranded vehicles, especially women and children, were having trouble finding food.