Photos of Burma Devastated by Storm

Photos of Burma Devastated by Storm

Burma Digest

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photos from AP, AFP, Reuters, BBC & MRTV

60,000 Dead or Missing in Burma

60,000 Dead or Missing in Burma

washingtonpost.com

Bush Offers Navy Units, Criticizes Junta as Storm Aid Begins to Reach Rangoon

Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, May 7, 2008; Page A01

 

BANGKOK, May 6 — The number of dead and missing in the Burma cyclone soared past 60,000 Tuesday amid signs the toll will rise even higher, as much of the disaster zone remained flooded by seawater, threatened by disease and out of reach of an international relief operation that is taking shape.

President Bush offered to send U.S. Navy units to help in the operation, and sharply criticized Burma’s military-run government for delays in approving visas for emergency teams. Burmese dissident groups took issue with the timing of the administration’s criticism, suggesting it could complicate the relief effort.

Emergency supplies began arriving by air in wind-battered Rangoon, the largest city in Burma. But little or no aid reached the Irrawaddy Delta, a vast and low-lying rice-producing region that absorbed the storm’s worst fury. Satellite photos showed catastrophic flooding of fields and villages as far inland as 35 miles.

A tidal wave that accompanied the cyclone was more deadly than the winds, Minister for Relief and Resettlement Maung Maung Swe told reporters in Rangoon. “The wave was up to 12 feet high, and it swept away and inundated half the houses in low-lying villages,” he said. “They did not have anywhere to flee.”

Speaking at a brief ceremony in the Oval Office to honor Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s detained democracy advocate, Bush said: “Our message to the military rulers is, ‘Let the U.S. come and help you help the people.’ “

“We’re prepared to help move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing and to help stabilize the situation,” Bush said. Two Navy ships are conducting disaster response exercises two days’ sailing from the storm-ravaged area.

The United States also offered $3 million in emergency aid Tuesday, up from $250,000 pledged on Monday. In addition, the Treasury Department loosened restrictions on charity groups to allow them to go into Burma without prior U.S. permission.

The president’s statement came shortly after Burma’s state television reported that 22,000 people had been killed and more than 40,000 people rendered missing by Tropical Cyclone Nargis, which smacked into the country over the weekend. An estimated 1 million survivors are said to be in urgent need of relief supplies, notably in the delta.

Packing winds of about 120 mph, Nargis was the deadliest cyclone to strike in Asia since a 1991 storm killed 143,000 in Bangladesh.

“When you look at the satellite picture of before and after the storm, the effects look even worse than Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in how it inundated low-lying areas,” Ken Reeves, director of forecasting operations for AccuWeather.com, said in a statement. “It took the worst possible path in terms of sustaining strength. . . . The interaction of water and land lying right at sea level allowed the tidal surge to deliver maximum penetration of seawater over land.”

Relief supplies from India, Thailand and other Asian neighbors have begun to arrive in Burma. A Royal Thai Air Force C-130 transport plane landed in Rangoon on Tuesday carrying bottled water, emergency meals and other badly needed items.

Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that while the Burmese military has made some helicopters and boats available, far more transportation, including trucks and boats, will be needed. “The major bottleneck will be the local delivery, rather than getting stuff into the Rangoon airport,” Horsey said. “We need distribution channels.”

In New York, Rashid Khalikov, director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said storm victims need plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, water purification and cooking kits, and food. He expressed concern as well over a possible spike in waterborne diseases and spiraling costs of food and other commodities.

U.N. relief officials in Burma are scrambling to make do with poor communications equipment and limited supplies stored in U.N. warehouses, Khalikov said. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was trying to transport supplies across the Thai border into Burma.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other senior U.N. officials have been privately trying to nudge the Burmese leadership to waive its visa policies, ease restrictions on the import of humanitarian supplies and allow a U.N. assessment team into the country to determine the extent of destruction and need. “We have applied for visas, and we have not got the visas,” Khalikov said. “They are on standby and ready to go.”

He noted that Tuesday was a holiday in Thailand, so the Burmese Embassy there was closed. It also was unfamiliar with U.N. operating practices, he said: “I’m not trying to justify it, but I would not go into saying that it was absolutely shocking or unacceptable” that the Burmese weren’t issuing visas to the relief workers.

The American Red Cross has shipped supplies such as kitchen sets, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits from its warehouse in Malaysia to Burma. The U.S. disaster relief charity is waiting to hear from aid workers on the ground assessing the damage and expects to help Burma pay for more supplies.

With the magnitude of the disaster growing more apparent, the government said Tuesday that it would postpone a vote on a new military-sponsored constitution in the storm-ravaged areas until May 24. But the charter, which opposition figures have denounced as a tool to legitimize military rule, will be put to a vote as scheduled on Saturday in the rest of the country.

The reclusive rulers of Burma — which they call Myanmar — are mistrustful of the outside world’s intentions. They are also resented by millions of their own citizens following a bloody crackdown on a democracy movement last September. Now, the storm is forcing them to make uncomfortable choices at a sensitive political moment.

With the number of dead and missing soaring, the generals have dropped their usual theme that Burma must be self-reliant and have requested international help.

Foreign governments, including Western countries that usually spurn the generals as pariahs, have responded to the rare appeal with offers that could presage the largest foreign engagement with Burma in its troubled history since it achieved independence from Britain in 1948.

“There is a real potential for this to be a game-changing moment,” said Sean Turnell, a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and editor of Burma Economic Watch. He noted foreign offers to help Indonesia after its Aceh province was devastated in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. “After the tsunami, the whole conversation changed,” he said. The U.S. Navy helped with the effort in Aceh.

Some analysts praised the tough talk against the junta by Bush and, on Monday, by first lady Laura Bush, who said the military government had failed to issue a timely warning to people in the storm’s path.

“It’s hard to speak honestly about what’s happened without pointing to the fact that the government is responsible for a large part of this disaster,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “Burma’s willingness or unwillingness to accept . . . aid won’t have anything to do with whether they are offended by the first lady.”

But exiled Burmese political analyst Aung Naing Oo, who fled Burma in 1988 and is now based in Thailand, labeled Laura Bush’s attack as “totally and utterly inappropriate.”

“She is trying to score political points out of people’s disaster,” he said. “That will clearly not go down well with anyone in Burma. This is about humanitarian issues — people are dying. This is a time for the U.S. government to say, ‘We are giving you money.’ They don’t need to score political points here.”

Ye Htut, a Burmese government spokesman, also accused the first lady of politicizing the tragedy. “I would like to say that what we are doing is better than the Bush administration response to the Katrina storm in 2005, if you compare the resources of the two countries,” he told reporters.

He said the government issued a cyclone warning two days before the storm struck.

In this environment of hostility, the prospect for effective and timely cooperation between the junta and Western governments — let alone U.S. military personnel deploying on the ground — remains uncertain.

“At one level, the regime worries that events could move out of their control if they let in Western aid groups, and lose that really tight control that they have had,” Turnell said. “But they must also be extraordinarily mindful of the potential that this could cause unrest in the country,” he said. “People are already jumping onto the fact that the army was out on the streets so quickly in September and asking, ‘Where are they now?’ “

Thant Myint-U, a Burmese historian and former U.N. official, said that “the problem is that everything, including aid, has been politicized, with suspicions on all sides.” But he noted that “if in response to this tragedy, the aid community and the Burmese authorities can work well together, keep politics entirely away and show that effective and impartial aid delivery is possible, I think that would be a great step forward.”

Staff writers Dan Eggen and Philip Rucker in Washington and Colum Lynch in New York contributed to this report.

The Candidates React to Burma Cyclone

By Garance Franke-Ruta and Juliet Eilperin

As the toll of dead or missing in Burma soared to 60,000 in the wake of Cyclone Nargis’s slamming into the South Asian state over the weekend, the candidates for president issued statements on the tragedy.

“My heart goes out to the people of Burma who have lost loved ones or otherwise been tragically affected by the cyclone that devastated Burma this past weekend,” Sen. Barack Obama said in a statement this morning. “I support the Administration’s plan to deploy a disaster assistance response team to Burma to assess the needs of Burma’s people, and I urge the Burmese government to allow our team access…. Although the regime in Burma is one whose repressive rule deserves our condemnation, I also strongly believe that humanitarian assistance should not be used as a political tool against those in need.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton had expressed similar sentiments yesterday. “My heart goes out to the victims of this horrible natural disaster and I hope the United States and the international community will respond to the needs of the Burmese people, who have suffered so much over the years,” she said in a statement, which went on to note the role her husband and former president George H.W. Bush played in helping to mobilize support in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. “I call on the Burmese regime to put aside politics and allow the international community to aid the people of Burma…. This disaster is a tremendous human tragedy and humanitarian challenge, but it also presents an opportunity for Burma to engage with the rest of the world and come together to save lives.”

Though his campaign has not issued a statement, over the past two days Sen. John McCain has repeatedly brought up the Burmese government’s response to the cyclone as a illustration of how the authoritarian regime has ignored the needs of its people.

“It’s not astonishing that the government of that country did not inform the people that cyclone was going to hit,” he told reporters aboard his Straight Talk Express Tuesday afternoon. “It does highlight the fact that they live under one of the most excessive and repressive regimes in the world.”

During a talk before the Charlotte, N.C. Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon, McCain said that while Americans are willing to aid the Burmese people in light of the recent natural disaster, “We also need to put more pressure on this illegal, corrupt government in Burma to make them change.”

 

Masters of malaise everywhere

Masters of malaise everywhere

Sorry folks, this kind of discrimination could be seen everywhere. But it is still manageable and not too bad here. In Burma, I was the top student in my class in every subject in every year. And I got first in the written examination for the post-grad entrance examination for all the Medical Universities, conducted by Ministry of Health, Directorate of Medical Education.

But I was rejected or failed at the interviews and when the Director of Medical Education openly remarked that he had no choice but to fail me because I am an Indian, I left Burma. (We are not allowed to sit the foreign exams at that time.)

Although I passed the Part 1 Membership exam from UK, HELD IN Singapore, I was denied further training in UK, Singapore and Malaysia because I am holding a Burmese Passport and not the official candidate sent by Myanmar Military Government. Only after working for many years in Malaysia, I was allowed the training but need to enlist in the Masters programme first.

Read this article/letter by Jason Gilbert in Malaysiakini_

It is that time of the year again, when application results for the local masters for medicine programme is announced. Places in these programmes are limited due to the resources required to run such a course in the local setting.

This is usually not the problem, as most are content with the fact that places are limited, and there is a competition for it. What’s unbecoming is the time and again issues of candidates who are selected for this programme by some whim and fancy, or by being some VIP children.

What is the message being sent out here? Work hard for the government and do your best, but only don’t hope to progress as there are others who take the shortcut method into the system.

Eligibility of the masters entrance denotes that candidates should be in good standing, and has completed government medical service by the time of entry into the programme. Also, ones has to declare one’s interest in the many specialties of medicine, and taken steps towards it by publishing in the appropriate discipline, or attempting courses or exams which are related to the said course.

However, each year the university takes in candidates under the Slai/Slab scheme, which pinches the available places from going to truly deserving candidates who have served the country. These usually consists of JPA deserters, who refuse to come home and serve the 10-year bond, and apply the easy way out. These are the truly ungrateful lot. Why should they be given this opportunity, and deprive a genuine candidate?

If we go into the depth of the Slai/Slab debacle, we’ll be here till the cows come home. No time for that. Let’s talk about the KKM candidature itself. Even here selection of candidate is not transparent. It has always been a grey area.

The health minister and the ministry’s DG lament day in and out about the shortage of doctors but to what effect? There is no remedial action. Good genuine doctors are lost from the KKM fold due to frustration of being slighted and treated unfairly in the masters application. What is your answer to that??

Doctor BS for example, is a candidate who has served the government for the last six years. He had applied for masters in surgery unsuccessfully. The year before last, he had not passed the entrance exams, which in itself was a smokescreen (previous undergraduates from the university which was organising that exam were informed before hand of the questions). This year however, he had passed his entrance exams and went ahead to the interview.

Dr BS has two years experience in general surgery, and another two years in sub-specialised surgery. Completed his Part 1 and Part 2 membership exams with the Royal College of Surgeons in UK. All his paperwork is in order (by no means an easy task going by the standards set by KKM and the staff who ‘makan gaji buta’), his SKTs (Sasaran Kerja Tahunan – a form of dubious assessment in government service) are well over the required 86% for three consecutive years. Yet he was denied entry into the masters program.

In his place the university has accepted far inferior candidates. So, people like Dr BS, are left with no option but to quit service, after being frustrated for years. Here is a candidate who is true to the name, a bona-fide postgraduate candidate and yet again, has been let to slip through the nets of dubious selection criteria.

Well done KKM and the universities. Shame on you.

 

 

Out of tragedy, light may shine on Burma

telegraph.co.uk

Out of tragedy, light may shine on Burma

Rangoon

They are cruel, power hungry and dangerously irrational – beyond that, little can be said for certain about Burma’s ruling generals. Reading them is less like Kremlinology, more like Byzantine studies.

They may regard the cyclone which devastated their country on Friday night as an ill omen from the spirit world. Certainly, the timing – a week before the first national vote in 18 years – looks inauspicious, and they are known to consult astrologers and mystics on all aspects of political life.

Whatever their analysis, it is clear that they are in a panic. For no other reason would they abandon the isolationism that has preserved them for so long, publicly admit the scale of the disaster and appeal for international relief aid.

It is a fair assumption that the people’s suffering is not the junta’s primary concern. After all, this is a regime that lays waste to hundreds of villages every year in the course of an unending civil war, creating half a million displaced people even before the cyclone struck.

It is far more likely that the generals recognise the crisis as the greatest threat to their regime since the army seized power in 1962. The monks’ protests in September they crushed easily enough. The pressure from Western governments that followed was shrugged off with the help of Asian neighbours who wanted to keep doing business.

Even the democracy protests of 1988, put down at the cost of 3,000 lives, were a problem whose solution came straight out of their playbook. Killing citizens is what the generals know. Providing emergency relief seems beyond them.

When the wind died down on Saturday afternoon and the first soldiers appeared on the streets of Rangoon, residents noted that they focused their efforts on the street where Daw Kyaing Kyaing, the wife of junta leader Than Shwe, was staying. Rumour has it that by Saturday evening a full electricity supply had been restored to her. By Tuesday night most of the rest of the city was still in blackness.

Stories of the tiny clique who rule Burma are eye-popping. It was Daw Kyaing Kyaing who reportedly ordered troops to fire on the monks. Than Shwe’s doctor moonlights as the health minister and the nation’s health is almost neglected. The family has its own pet tycoon, a man named Te Za, with whom Than Shwe has exchanged a free run of the country’s natural resources for all the cash he needs.

Than Shwe, who is thought to be 75 and in failing health, is said to be losing his memory. Most of the generals who nominally run the government ministries are scarcely any sharper. One confidently asserted that bird flu would never reach Burma because sick birds could not fly over the mountains from Thailand.

Nevertheless – through surveillance, brutality and fear – the regime exercises a grip that few observers can see an end to. On Saturday, Burmese will vote on a new constitution that will entrench military rule. Whatever the true result, everyone expects that a ringing endorsement will duly be announced.

What impact could Cyclone Nargis have on this political nightmare? Already, it has forced a two-week postponement of voting in the affected areas. When the survivors do vote, they are likely to deliver such a strong rejection of the new charter that even this regime will have difficulty covering it up.

The greater danger for the junta is that medium-term shortages of necessities trigger a new protest movement. A blatant attempt at rigging the vote could add to the simmering outrage.

There have been glimpses of dissent. On Sunday, two soldiers demanding a gallon of petrol, which is in short supply, from a Rangoon housewife. “I’ll give it to you because you are people asking for my help,” she told them, “but I hate this uniform!” A group of neighbours stood about in silent support. “I felt like clapping,” said one witness.

Yet, much as the shattered opposition – and its friends in the West – would applaud an uprising, it might again end in bloody disaster. But there is another way in which the tragedy could bring a chance of positive change to Burma.

The regime has thrived on isolation, at first self-imposed and later abetted by Western sanctions. “This Western isolation of the Burmese military has hurt so much,” says Aung Naing Oo, an exiled political scientist. “It has rendered them completely incompetent. They are extremely backward people living in their own cocoon.”

Like other realists, Aung Naing Oo recognises the impossibility of driving the army out of politics outright. In more than 40 years of extremist rule officers have invaded all spheres of national life. Some form of transition appears the only plausible way out of Burma’s nightmare.

By tentatively accepting Western aid the generals have opened the way for greater international contact. The mantra of “all national problems have national solutions” no longer holds. Genuine dialogue, albeit over tents and food supplies for now, is necessary.

“Maybe it is a back door to establishing a bit of trust and understanding,” said a Western diplomat yesterday. Maybe this is a chance to open a crack in Burma’s crippling isolation.

 

BBC reporter deported from Rangoon airport

 BBC reporter deported from Rangoon airport

Mizzima News   Tuesday, 06 May 2008 19:57

Chiang Mai – The Burmese military junta deported a BBC reporter from the Rangoon airport yesterday. The British national Mr. Andrew William Fardae arrived in the Thai Airways International at Rangoon airport in May 5 afternoon but was deported from the airport by the regime authorities.

The government’s MRTV announced today that Mr. Andrew William Fardae had visited Burma with a tourist visa previously but he violated the tourist visa and thus he was the black listed by the government. It added that the BBC reporter had entered the country and stayed from June 6 to 13 in 2006 and in September 2007 with a tourist visa.

He was holding a new passport number when he tried to enter into the country, the government alleged

 

Myanmar red tape blocks relief work

Myanmar cyclone toll rises but relief effort lags

 

 

Officials say as many as 22,000 are dead. The government says aid groups will be allowed in, but efforts are delayed by visa procedures.

By Mark Magnier and Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
May 7, 2008
BEIJING — The death toll continued to climb in Myanmar as state media reported Tuesday that more than 22,000 people had died due to a weekend cyclone and more than 41,000 were missing.

Efforts to reach the victims and help the estimated 1 million people left homeless by Tropical Cyclone Nargis remained mired amid bureaucracy, logistical problems and the isolation of many affected areas.

 

 

Myanmar cyclone path & flooded areas

 

Myanmar’s military government has signaled that it will allow international aid groups to enter the insular Southeast Asian country. But many humanitarian groups said they were still waiting for visas and the few on the ground reported shortages of drinking water, food, housing and other necessities.

State television played up the role of soldiers in recovery efforts. CNN showed images of uprooted trees, roofless houses and fishing boats driven onshore by the storm in the Irrawaddy River delta region, regarded as Myanmar’s rice bowl.

The cyclone, which brought 120-mph winds and 12-foot storm surges, was believed to be the worst natural disaster to hit Southeast Asia since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed more than 220,000 lives. Myanmar, relatively lightly hit then, opted for financial reasons not to participate in an extensive early warning system set up afterward.

The Myanmar government backed away slightly from its earlier vow to press on with a controversial referendum Saturday on a new constitution. Unaffected areas will still vote, officials said, and hard-hit areas will be given a two-week postponement.

The nation’s generals have touted the referendum as a key step toward democracy, but the United States and other critics are skeptical that the regime would loosen its white-knuckle grip on power in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

“If they go ahead and hold it, this shows they’re out of touch with reality,” said Zarni, founder of the London-based Free Burma Coalition, who, like many Myanmar natives, uses only one name. “The young officers are more in touch with the people, but the senior leadership is in a cocoon.”

President Bush called on Myanmar’s government to let the U.S. military help with disaster relief.

“We’re prepared to move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilize the situation,” he said as he signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the regime’s nemesis, democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi. “But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country.”

The Bush administration announced that it had boosted its initial offer of $250,000 for relief efforts by $3 million. The money would come from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Let the United States come to help you, help the people,” Bush said in a message directed at the leaders of Myanmar.

“At the same time, of course,” he added, “we want them to live in a free society.”

In addition to worrying about international pressures, Myanmar’s leadership faces dissatisfaction at home, analysts said.

Some residents waited in lines for nine hours to buy gasoline, and at one gas station in the suburb of Sanchaung, fights broke out among weary residents after someone tried to cut in line, the Associated Press reported. A short distance away, the Dagon Ice Factory drinking water company turned people away with signs that said, “No More.”

“Where are the police? Where’s the army?” asked Soe Aung, spokesman for the National Council of the Union of Burma, which is based in Thailand. “They were always ready when there were demonstrations to beat up people and shoot at them, but now where are they?”

The Associated Press reported that Buddhist monks and Roman Catholic nuns in hard-hit Yangon used axes and long knives to clear ancient fallen trees that once lined the city’s streets. Electricity remained cut off for nearly all of the city’s 6.5 million residents.

Win Min, an exile living in Thailand, said he was extremely anxious about his friends and family in Bogalay, where state media have reported that about 10,000 people have died. Win, like thousands of others, had been trying unsuccessfully to reach loved ones by telephone.

Myanmar cycloneMyanmar cycloneMyanmar cyclone“I’m very worried the next time I go home I may not see some of them,” said Win, who teaches at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. Bogalay, shaped like a rectangle, is largely surrounded by water, he said, making it highly vulnerable. Almost every house is constructed of old wood and woven mats that would not withstand much punishment. And the main road to Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, would quickly bog down, even if it were not blocked by debris, he added, making it difficult to transport aid and medical care.

“The real question is how they’re ever going to reach the affected areas,” Win said. “I hope the government will allow foreign ships and helicopters in, but so far I haven’t seen it.”

Myanmar cyclone

Myanmar

Day in Photos

Day in photos

 

Irrawaddy Delta region

Aerial view of a village in the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar showing the devastation, with many roofs missing

Official: UN aid ready to go into cyclone-hit Myanmar

 

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 (Xinhua) — A senior UN official said Tuesday assistance was ready to go into Myanmar to help address the needs of the people affected by Cyclone Nargis.

    Rashid Khalikov, director of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that UN agencies, such as the World Food Program, Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and Children’s Fund, were stepping up their stockpiles in the country and in the region and were shipping assistance to Myanmar.

    At the UN Headquarters in New York, Khalikov also told reporters “We cannot tell you how many people are in need of assistance, … but it is likely to be in the hundreds of thousands.”

    The UN Country team in Myanmar had indicated that it considered the critical need, at present, to be plastic sheeting, water purification equipment, cooking sets, mosquito nets, emergency health kits, and food, according to Khalikov.

    Expressing his hope that the government of Myanmar will ease visa regulations in order to speed up the delivery of vital relief supplies, he stressed “this is a critical moment for the affected populations.”

    Khalikov also appealed to the international community to support the relief effort that is unfolding, and added that the UN Country Team in Myanmar is drafting a flash appeal, which is to be launched later this week.

    Cyclone Nargis ripped through Myanmar Friday, leaving at least 22,464 people dead and hundreds of thousands without shelter.

EuroNews

Myanmar death toll escalates further

Myanmar’s military government has raised its estimation of the death toll from Cyclone Nargis to more than 22 thousand, with another 41 thousand missing. The cyclone is the worst to hit Asia since 1991, when 143 thousand died in Bangladesh. Amid the chaos, its claimed Myanmar’s military regime is placing too many conditions on aid deliveries. UN officials are appealing for aid workers’ visa requirements to be waived.

Its thought the majority of those killed and missing were caught up in a massive water surge whipped up by 190 kph winds that swept into the Irrawaddy Delta. Meanwhile, the first shipment of more than six and a half million euros of foreign aid has arrived from Thailand. The UN has also begun doling out emergency rice in Yangon, the largest city and former capital. Reflecting the scale of the crisis, the government said it would postpone the country’s constitutional referendum until May the 24th in the worst-hit areas.

Myanmar red tape blocks relief work

Satellite photos show cyclone fury

The two satellite photos above from the US space agency Nasa show the devastating affect of Cyclone Nargis which swept over the Irrawaddy delta region of Myanmar on Saturday.

 The image on the left taken in April 15 shows the Irrawaddy river flowing south and splitting into numerous distributaries. 

 

Thailand's air force loads up aid to send to BurmaRivers and lakes are sharply defined against a backdrop of vegetation and fallow agricultural land.

 

The image on the right taken on May 5 shows the entire coastal plain is flooded after the area took a direct hit from the cyclone. 

The city of Yangon (located by the red rectangle) is almost completely surrounded by floods.

Map: Deadly path of Cyclone Nargis

There are also concerns over what the military government will do with the money.

 

 

The United Nations says a million people may have been displaced and the situation on the ground is desperate, with survivors sleeping where they can and running out of food and water.

Residents help an injured person in the Irrawaddy region on 5 May 2008 The military government has been criticised for responding slowly, before and after the cyclone struck.

 Meteorologists say they gave 48 hours warning before the storm hit, but people were not told early enough to evacuate.

 A spokesman for the UN’s World Food Programme said on Tuesday it had begun distributing food in damaged areas of the former capital Yangon and that 800 tonnes of food had already arrived.

But many others aid providers were still waiting for visas to allow their teams entry into Myanmar, including a five-person UN disaster assessment team waiting to go in from Bangkok.

Aid abuse fears

 

 

 Two US navy ships are waiting near the waters of Myanmar for its green light to carry out evacuation and other critical relief activities.

Map showing path of cyclone and worst hit areas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Sri Lanka offers 25,000 USD of donation to cyclone-hit Myanmar 

  2. Thailand provides medical aid to cyclone-hit Myanmar

  3. Asian countries rally to help cyclone-hit Myanmar

  4. Russia offers aid to cyclone-hit Myanmar 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

“We’re prepared to move US navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilise the situation,”

 George Bush, the US president, said. ” But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country.” But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country.” But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country.” 

 

 

 

UN begins food distribution in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar

UN begins food distribution in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar

GENEVA: The UN’s World Food Programme on Tuesday said it has reached the first of an estimated 1 million people left homeless by the devastating cyclone that ravaged the coast of Myanmar.

It added, however, that many coastal areas remained cut off from food supplies because of flooding and road damage.

“WFP food assistance has now begun to reach persons who are without shelter or food resources in and around Yangon,” the country’s largest city, Chris Kaye, the agency’s director for Myanmar, said in a statement.

He added that additional truckloads of food would be dispatched on Wednesday to Labutta township, the area hardest hit by the cyclone that struck at the weekend.

The death toll in the country, which is also known as Burma, rose above 22,000 today, with more than 41,000 others missing, state radio reported.

Travel and visa obstacles hampered aid deliveries, officials said, but a green light from Myanmar to accept supplies started the global relief effort rolling three days after the storm.

“This assistance is on its way,” said United Nations relief spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, but she said UN workers planning to assess needs are still awaiting their visas to enter the country.

The food agency said its assessment teams were reporting tremendous storm damage to homes and shelter in villages in the rice-growing areas on Myanmar’s coast. It said the death toll was still increasing.

U.S. navy ready to help cyclone-ravaged Myanmar

www.chinaview.cn 2008-05-07 04:34:14
 WASHINGTON, May 6 (Xinhua) — U.S. Navy ships are standing by off Thailand awaiting permission to join relief efforts in cyclone-hit Myanmar, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

    “But that’s all we can do at this point, is to plan, because we have not received a request from the Burmese (Myanmar’s) government,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

    The U.S. Navy ships that are ready to leave for Myanmar include the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship that carries 23 helicopters, three landing craft, and a contingent of 1,800 marines, the Pentagon said.

    The nearest U.S. navy ships to Myanmar were reportedly a four-and-a-half-day sail away taking part in an exercise in waters in the Gulf of Thailand.

    U.S. President George W. Bush made an appeal to Myanmar’s government on Tuesday to accept U.S. disaster teams, saying Washington was ready to help more after a devastating cyclone.

    “The United States has made an initial aid contribution but we want to do a lot more,” Bush told reporters at the White House.

    Also on Tuesday, the Bush administration is offering three million U.S. dollars, up from an initial emergency contribution of250,000 dollars, in aide for cyclone-hit Myanmar.

    “We urge the government of Burma to grant full access to the affected areas to international humanitarian relief teams and non-governmental organizations,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

    Tropical cyclone Nargis, which developed over the Bay of Bengal, ripped through Myanmar’s five divisions and states, leaving at least 22,500 people dead and more than 41,000 missing.

    The United States has long imposed a trade and investment ban on Myanmar, accusing the government of “poor human rights records.”

U.S. Eases Sanctions

to Permit Disaster Aid to Myanmar

The U.S. government is relaxing financial sanctions against cyclone-ravaged Myanmar, U.S. News learned Tuesday afternoon.

The sanctions, implemented to apply pressure on the military dictatorship that controls Myanmar, in part prevented U.S. humanitarian organizations and individuals from donating money directly to causes within that impoverished country. That created little stir until Cyclone Nargis struck this week, killing at least 22,500 in the low-lying southern delta of the country, formerly known as Burma.

U.S. aid organizations, such as the American Red Cross, found that they could provide only supplies to the relief effort—not personnel nor money—under the sanctions rules. Nor could they accept specific donations from private American citizens to provide aid in the aftermath of this natural disaster.

The U.S. Treasury Department posted on its website a ruling (.pdf) at 5 p.m. that softened the sanctions to allow donations by U.S. citizens and charity directly to the relief effort.

American relief workers are also now allowed access to Myanmar under American regulations (The repressive Myanmar regime, however, has been slow to grant entry visas to new western workers).

The sanctions still prevent any aid to the government, unless an exception is granted by the U.S. government. John Rankin, a Treasury Department spokesman, says talks about softening the Myanmar sanctions had been ongoing. “The disaster pushed it over the finish line,” he said.

For individuals now wanting to donate money specifically to the Nargis relief effort, the best option is to find an agency that is already on the ground in Myanmar, such as CARE, which had 500 full-time staffers in the impoverished country when the cyclone hit.

The military government that controls Myanmar is notoriously paranoid of outsiders, making it difficult for unfamiliar international organizations to enter the country after the storm. A list of NGOs and their work on the Myanmar relief effort can be found at interaction.org.

—Bret Schulte