Cyclone Nargis

Latest video of damage in Rangoon after Cyclone Nargis passed through lower Burma on May 2 and 3, at DVB, and photo gallery.

Slide show of damage at VOA.

According to DVB, entire new townships, which for the most part consist of flimsy wooden and galvanised iron houses, have been seriously damaged and there are no authorities or emergency crews to be seen.

Coming on the back of last year’s price increases, there are reports of rapid further rises in costs (and here) and residents fear imminent widespread hunger and water problems unless there is international assistance.

The UN says that “flooding, blocked roads and disrupted communications are hampering efforts to assess the full extent of damage” but that “the water supply is unfit to drink”. There is no electricity, the supply of which is unreliable at the best of times.

There are as yet no detailed reports of the delta region, which has been put under a state of emergency, as well as states to the east of Rangoon.

The government has not yet formally requested international assistance.

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3 responses to “Cyclone Nargis

  1. Aid Agencies Struggle to Assess Burma Cyclone Damage
    By AUNG HLA TUN / REUTERS WRITER / RANGOON

    Authorities and foreign aid workers in army-ruled Burma struggled on Monday to assess the damage from a severe cyclone that killed more than 350 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

    State media said 20,000 homes were destroyed on one island alone after Cyclone Nargis, a Category 3 storm packing winds of 190 km (120 mile) per hour, ripped through Irrawaddy delta on Saturday.

    An electric pole is broken by strong wind on a street in Burma’s biggest city Rangoon May 3. (Photo: Reuters / Xinhua)
    The death toll is likely to climb as the authorities slowly make contact with islands and low-lying villages in the delta, the rice bowl of former Burma.

    “The government is having as much trouble as anyone else in getting a full overview. Roads are not accessible and many small villages were hit and will take time to reach,” Terje Skavdal, regional head of UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), told Reuters in Bangkok.

    Teams of foreign aid workers were trying to assess the damage and aid needs, but their access and movements are restricted by the military, which has ruled Burma for 46 years.

    “That is the existing situation for international staff. The way most agencies work is they use national staff who have more freedom to move,” Skavdal said.

    “We will have a dialogue with the government to try to get access to the people affected,” he said.

    In Rangoon, many roofs were ripped off even sturdy buildings, suggesting damage would be severe in the shanty towns that lie on its outskirts.

    Destroyed fishing boats at the port of Rangoon after cylone Nargis on May 4. (Photo: AFP)
    State television was still off air in the former capital more than 48 hours after Nagris slammed into the city of 5 million. Clean water was becoming scare and with the electricity down, most shops had sold out of candles.

    In western Rangoon, a group of 100 monks led efforts to clear streets littered with fallen trees and debris from battered buildings, a witness said.

    “The clean up is beginning but this will take a long time. The damage around town is intense,” one Rangoon-based Western diplomat told Reuters.

    Official newspapers said only one in four buildings were left standing in Laputta and Kyaik Lat, two towns deep in the rice-producing region.

    Some 90,000 people were left homeless on the island of Haingyi, around 200 km southwest of Rangoon on the western fringes of the Irrawaddy delta.

    United Nations disaster experts were due to meet in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand, later on Monday to assess Burma’s needs and how best to respond.

    With many buildings damaged or destroyed, plastic sheeting was a high priority to provide shelter during the rainy season.

    Water purification tablets, mosquito nets and cooking equipment would also be needed, Skavdal said.

    Bunkered down in Naypyidaw, 240 miles to the north of Rangoon, the junta’s top brass has not formerly responded to an offer of international assistance.

    But UN officials met with Burma’s Minister of Social Welfare on Sunday “and the indication was assistance may be welcomed, but we need to understand the terms,” Skavdal said.

    “I think it’s a positive sign. As long as we are in dialogue it is good,” he said.

    The regime declared a disaster in five states and government television carried footage of soldiers clearing trees from roads and Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein, meeting people sheltering in a Buddhist pagoda.

    State media said on Monday that a referendum on a new army-drafted constitution would go ahead on May 10 despite the cyclone.

    Nargis had weakened as it moved into western and northern Thailand on Monday, where there were no reports of damage or casualties.

    Source: The Irrawaddy

  2. Pingback: Nargis in Burma « deathpower

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Myanmar: The perfect storm

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