Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Myanmar cyclone death toll soars

YANGON: Myanmar's military government raised its death toll from Cyclone Nargis yesterday to nearly 22,500 with a further 41,000 missing, nearly all of them from a massive storm surge that swept into the Irrawaddy delta.

Of the dead, only 671 were in the former capital, Yangon, and its outlying districts, state radio said, confirming Nargis as the most devastating cyclone to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people died in Bangladesh.

“More deaths were caused by the tidal wave than the storm itself,” Minister for Relief and Resettlement Maung Maung Swe told a news conference in the rubble-strewn city of five million, where food and water supplies are running low.

“The wave was up to 3.5m high and it swept away and inundated half the houses in low-lying villages,” he said, giving the first detailed description of the weekend cyclone. “They did not have anywhere to flee.”

Information Minister Kyaw Hsan said the military were “doing their best”, but analysts said there could be political fallout for the former Burma's rulers who pride themselves on their ability to cope with any challenge.

The government lifted states of emergency in three of the five states declared official disaster zones and some parts of the worst-hit Yangon and Irrawaddy regions.

The Information Minister also said the government had sufficient stocks of rice despite damage to grain stored in the huge delta, known as the “rice bowl of Asia” 50 years ago when Burma was the world's largest rice exporter.

The total left homeless by the 190km per hour winds and storm surge is in the several hundred thousands, United Nations aid officials say.

Even in delta villages that managed to withstand the worst of the winds, food and water is already running low.

Residents of Yangon itself were queuing up for bottled water and there was still no electricity four days after the cyclone hit.

Prices of food, fuel and construction materials have skyrocketed, and most shops have sold out of candles and batteries. An egg costs three times what it did on Friday.

Asian nations yesterday joined the international community in offering support for victims of the devastating Myanmar cyclone, after a rare appeal for help from the nation's military junta.

Asean appealed for “generous” international aid for member Myanmar, with Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, saying the 10-member bloc has begun to mobilise help through coordination centres in its capitals.

Elsewhere around the world support and offers of assistance were tempered by criticism of Myanmar's rulers for failing to take steps to prevent the horrific death toll.

Get a latest news around the world@

No comments:

Fresh News!!



Sponsored by Bokbong