Saturday, May 10, 2008

Death toll could reach 100,000 in Myanmar

From an initial 350 people on the day after cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar 6 days ago, the death toll now could reach 100,000 due to furhter delays in relief effort.

The cyclone devastated the country's low-lying Irrawaddy delta region May 3, leaving more than 1 million people homeless, according to the UN. An estimated 80,000 people died in the delta's Labutta district alone, Agence France-Presse reported, citing local military official Tin Win.

Myanmar is not known to have an adequate disaster warning system and many rural buildings are constructed of thatch, bamboo and other materials easily destroyed by fierce storms.

"The government misled people. They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared," said Thin Thin, a grocery store owner.

The radio station broadcasting from the country's capital, Naypyitaw, said 3,939 people had been killed. Another 2,879 people were unaccounted for in a single town, Bogalay, in the country's low-lying Irrawaddy River delta area.

But Foreign Minister Nyan Win told Yangon-based diplomats that the death toll could rise to more than 10,000 in the Irrawaddy delta, according to Asian diplomats at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was held behind closed doors.

Myanmar's ruling junta, which has spurned the international community for decades, appealed for aid on Monday. But the U.S. State Department said Myanmar's government had not granted permission for a Disaster Assistance Response Team into the country.

Laura Blank, spokeswoman for World Vision, said two assessment teams have been sent to the hardest hit areas to determine the most urgent needs.

"This is probably the most devastating natural disaster in Southeast Asia since the tsunami," Blank said, referring to the 2004 disaster that killed around 230,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations. "There are a lot of important needs, but the most important is clean water."

The situation in the countryside remained unclear because of poor communications and roads left impassable by the storm.

"Widespread destruction is obviously making it more difficult to get aid to people who need it most," said Michael Annear, regional disaster management coordinator for the International Federation of the Red Cross in Bangkok.

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1 comment:

the wxman said...

That cyclone is considered to be the Asia's perfect storm..Leaving out over million homeless and taking thousands of lives..I hope that relief goods for the victims of the cyclone will going to move fast..They really need fresh water and food..Hope they will have a speedy and healthy recovery..