There are many news reports on the scale of damage and deaths left in Cyclone Nargis’ wake now available in English, and persons interested to get detailed information on the response should especially follow the updates on Relief Web.
According to a government broadcast that Reuters monitored from Bangkok, the official figures as of Tuesday, May 6, stand at:
Irrawaddy Division: Nearly 15,000 dead, 3,000 missing; comprising 1,835 dead, 2,187 missing on Mawlamyaing Island; 975 dead on Heingyi Island; 253 dead, 10 missing on Khetta Island; 789 dead, 172 missing in Dedaye Township; over 1000 dead in Laputta Township; and about 10,000 dead in Bogalay Township. The damage in the delta seems to have been especially severe due to a surge in the sea level at the time of the storm.
Yangon Division: 59 dead, over 500 missing; comprising of 19 dead, 4 missing in Yangon and 40 dead, about 500 missing in Kunchankone. Presumably these figures do not include the prisoners allegedly shot dead at Insein Prison.
At time of writing the government website news had not been updated since May 2.
In the next few days, Rule of Lords will post news from Burmese sources that may be getting partly covered or not covered in the mainstream English media.
Eyewitness account from Laputta
Nearly the entire town of Laputta, which has about 50,000 people living in it, was flattened in the storm, according to one eyewitness. Still, because surrounding villages have been completely obliterated, the villagers have also been pouring into the wrecked town and tens of thousands are estimated to be affected.
“Some were killed by flying trees, some from exposure to the cold, some died when they had gathered to shelter from the storms in monasteries and they collapsed,” the eyewitness said.
The sea rose by around 5 feet and swamped the town (pictured above) at the time of the storm, causing most of the damage and sweeping away small homes and buildings.
“There was water, rain and wind. The shore road was submerged and on the high ground the water was at knee level. The whole town was underwater. There were heavy waves all over, and water snakes. Some died from the snakes,” the eyewitness said.
Around 15 villages have been wiped off the map and the villagers are nowhere to be found, the person said. The villages include: Kaingthaung, Hlwasa, Migyaung-aing, Ywe, Kyotekone, Dhamminchaungle, Leyingwin, Hsinlankyi, Yeywei, Aingma, Kamar, Mi-U and Kyarnigan.
“There has been no help. No one has anywhere to stay. No work, there’s nothing. We’re just sticking together at the monastery.”
Source: Yoma 3, May 5
In some places food and water shortages have caused theft and in around Hlaingthayar Market in Rangoon soldiers are patrolling. Prices of other basic essentials like candles have skyrocketed. There was a fire in the Theingyi Market and some looting. The fire brigade has been demanding payments for water at the price of 10,000 Kyat (over US$8 ) to fill a drum. Transport operators prices have multiplied about fourfold as the black market price of fuel has gone up that much. Authorities have only cleared the roads used by senior officials. (Source: Yoma 3, May 5)
At least one top government official, U Aung Thaung, the industry minister, has not bothered to go to the areas affected by the cyclone but has just carried on campaigning for Yes votes in the coming referendum in Taunghsin township of Mandalay. Furthermore, households who didn’t send one member to attend the meetings called to support the draft have been told that they will be fined 2000 Kyat (around US$ 1.60), in some places, 2500. A local resident questioned what the point was of his continuing on with the referendum campaign when lower Burma is in ruins. (Source: Yoma 3, May 6)
Local people in Rangoon and monks have cleared roads themselves due to the lack of authorities. The clearing has been done by a system of “self reliance” according to one participant. People are also sharing small quantities of water and other essentials among themselves to get through this period. In Kyimyintaing, Rangoon, some small vendors had reopened. (Source: DVB, May 5)
U Myint Aye, a member of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters speaking to DVB from Bogalay said that it was hit by the storm from 8:30pm to 4am, at about 5am it was passed. Wards 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 were most seriously damaged, including from winds and water. A villager from the south of the town said that the village had been destroyed and children and women were missing. There has been absolutely no contact from some areas. There has been no effective assistance yet. People are surviving under plastic sheets and have gathered at monasteries. Every monastery has had its roof destroyed, but monks are giving assistance by distributing timber and other supplies to the public from their stocks. There are serious concerns about food, water and health. (Source: DVB broadcast, May 6)
Two people were killed at the jetty on the Hlaing River in Ngazin section of Kyimyindaing Township in Rangoon yet despite the deaths being reported to the township police station no one came. One was a 45-year-old named Kyaw Thein who was crushed when the structure in which he hid collapsed. When no police arrived the locals went ahead and cremated the body. The other was 33-year-old Ko Aung Sein who died from illness caused by exposure to the elements. (Source: DVB, May 6)
In Pegu, northeast of Rangoon, at least one person was killed and people are unhappy at the slow response from authorities. There was fire in section 19 and damage in other quarters. The person, described as a waiter in the shop–usually young boys–was killed in a teashop on Paya Road by the USDA office after it was hit by a falling tree. (Source: DVB, May 6)