Parts of Myanmar still cut off

 Parts of Myanmar still cut off

NST Online » World News (Agence France – Presse)

Parts of Myanmar are still cut off 10 days after its devastating cyclone, the military regime said Monday, ahead of the first aid flight from the United States — one of its most vocal critics.
The flow of international aid into Myanmar, which says 62,000 people are dead or missing, has creased in the past two days, bringing new hope for around 1.5 million people in desperate need of emergency aid.
But aid agencies said it remains difficult to get a full picture of the extent of the catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest and most isolated nations, where the army has kept an iron grip on power for 46 years.
Long suspicious of any outside influences that could undermine their total control, the generals again said Monday that foreign experts — who have the expertise to oversee the massive relief effort — would not be put in charge.

“Delivery of relief goods can be handled by local organisations,” said Economic Development Minister Soe Tha, quoted by the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, the junta’s state-run mouthpiece.

He said there were still some parts of country , formerly known as Burma, where government officials had not been able to visit since the massive storm, which churned up a tidal wave and sea surge, hit the southern delta on May 3.

“Supplies were dropped in flooded areas where the helicopters could not land,” Soe Tha said.

Aid groups have insisted the regime does not have the capacity to direct the relief operation in the delta, where diarrhoea and other illnesses are starting to threaten survivors living in scenes of almost unimaginable despair.

Ten days after the tragedy struck, bloated corpses are still floating in the water, untold numbers do not have enough food or fuel or clean water, and many people say the government has not turned up with emergency supplies.

“We have not got any aid from anyone,” said Man Mu, a mother of five in one of the thousands of tiny delta villages that was pulverised by the storm. One of her children was swept away in the disaster.

“We only have the clothes we are wearing,” she said. “We have lost everything.”

As it showed in the Asian tsunami disaster of 2004, the United States is perhaps the only country with the military manpower and equipment to carry out a vast and immediate relief effort of the kind needed.

But there is no question of Myanmar, which has suffered years of sanctions imposed by Washington, allowing in the military of the United States or indeed any other nation.

Analysts say that for the regime, it is crucial to maintain an image of being in total control of the welfare of the people — even though aid groups say any delays in reaching the neediest could cost more lives.

“It sounds pretty devastating,” said US Marine Major Tom Keating, as a US C-130 transport plane in neighbouring Thailand was loaded with blankets, mosquito nets and water for a flight to Myanmar’s main city Yangon later in the day.

“When you have a crisis going and you can’t help out, it’s just frustrating,” he said.

International aid flights have been increasing, and a Red Cross spokesman that nine of its planes alone will have reached Yangon by day’s end. But aid groups stress that far more is needed.

“It’s not true that nothing is happening at all, but not enough is happening,” said Frank Smithuis of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

It has been impossible to get an accurate toll of the numbers of dead and missing, and estimates have varied widely from day to day.

The United Nations and US diplomats have said they believe at least 100,000 are dead.

Relief agencies have struggled to get a clear picture of the situation on the ground.

Andrew Kirkwood of Save the Children, one of the few agencies allowed to operate under tight controls inside Myanmar, said there were now outbreaks of fever and diarrhoea among survivors.

He said many people were also suffering from wind-burn, from spending days out in the elements after their homes were destroyed.

Thousands of people have been flocking over the past few days to the delta town of Myaungmya, fleeing villages that in many cases are no longer there.

ASEAN chief Surin Pitsuwan has written to Myanmar seeking “quick admission” of aid from the region, but unlike western governments has stopped short of condemning the junta.

Death toll from Cyclone Nargis’ aftermath may be alarmingly high

Death toll from Cyclone Nargis’ aftermath may be alarmingly high

FROM YANGON
By HARIATI AZIZAN

Monday May 12, 2008

THE first thing that struck me when I arrived in Yangon, Myanmar, was how old and battered it was. Derelict buildings, still very much in use, line the narrow streets of the once prosperous Burmese city. Poverty is rampant, and so is the air of tranquil timelessness.

Buses and cars that should be in a junkyard rattle like tin cans downtown while the people mill about on uneven pavements. After more than four decades of military rule, the former capital of one of the world’s poorest countries is in tatters, its squalor saved only by lush trees and awe-inspiring pagodas.

That was a day before Cyclone Nargis hit. And, when it did, it left in its wake more ruins.

No good news: Some people in Yangon have resigned themselves to the latest tragedy that befell them. Things were no better even before it. — HARIATI AZIZAN/ The Star

Most of the magnificent pagodas were unscathed but the huge, beautiful trees were gone. The most powerful cyclone to strike the nation also wrecked many of the dilapidated buildings. With debris strewn about the open spaces, devastated Yangon was like a war-zone.

Gone is the pregnant air of resignation among the people as desperation and raw survival instinct seep in.

I was in Myanmar during the fateful weekend with a group of journalists from the region on a fellowship with the Bangkok-based South East Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA). We were on a five-day “study” mission on the state of the country after last September’s Saffron Revolution (when Buddhist monks took the streets in protest) and the mood of the people with the constitutional referendum held on Saturday. We got more than what we had bargained for.

As luck would have it, we were in the northern Myanmar town, Bagan, when the maelstrom occurred. Our travel plans were changed at the last minute due to the country’s rigid immigration laws, which saw a few fellow journalists rejected entry. So, with the fewer number, everyone travelled north instead of some going to south and west; it proved to be a crucial turn of events.

We first got wind of the impending disaster on the afternoon of May 2 in Bagan when our tour guide informed us that our flight from the historical town to Mandalay might be cancelled due to bad weather. We continued with our sightseeing, oblivious to the tragedy that was to come.

With communications down, we were unable to get news on the magnitude of the disaster. All attempts to get a clearer picture of the situation, as well as the safety of our guide’s family were futile.

“This is how the military junta keeps control of us – divide and rule. If something happens in one part of the country, those in the other states will not know of it,” he said.

The guide said no warning was given to the people in the hit areas. In a country where the media is controlled and telecommunications infrastructure is under-developed, the people usually get whatever information there is from independent short-wave radio services like the Voice of America and BBC World Service.

“Most people are too poor to have radios though, so they would have been totally unprepared for the cyclone,” he said.

Frustrated by the lack of news on local TV, he said: “Our government only wants people to see everything that is fine in the country. That’s why there is no news on the disaster.”

True, in Mandalay, it was surreally sunny and serene.

We first received news on the impact of the cyclone on the night of May 3. The official Myanmar media reported a fatality of only four.

The next day, the country’s official television channel reported that the body count had risen to 351. The rest of the airtime was filled with soap operas and musical programmes. Only the foreign news channels reported the real extent of the catastrophe.

We flew back to Yangon on May 5, the first day the airports were re-opened, with a connecting flight to Bangkok scheduled for the same evening.

With journalists from all over the world trying desperately to get into the country, our first instinct was to stay on and go out to the worst-affected areas but we were thwarted by floods, broken bridges and closed roads. With petrol supply halted for two days, most vehicles were immobile.

Fortunately, we were able to hire a mini-van into the city to survey the aftermath before our flight, but only after paying five times the normal rate.

According to the official report, up to 600 people were killed in Yangon but many more were made homeless. Destroyed amenities meant the survivors have no clean water and electricity.

There was much hype on the local news about how the Tatmadaw or army had gone to the people’s rescue but as we drove around the city, we saw little evidence of this.

We saw army trucks and jeeps parked by the roadside, but only a few soldiers, standing idly on the pavement or hacking away at broken tree trunks.

With Monday being the first day the shops and petrol stations opened in Yangon, many residents thronged the streets for food, water and energy.

Fear of food shortage and escalating prices was creating panic, and many who could afford these were stocking up, said one lady.

“Prices have been rising since last year. Before the cyclone, it cost about 5,000 kyat (about RM16) for a litre of petrol and more than 1,300 kyat (RM4.20) for two kg of rice,” she said. “Now, the prices will be double, triple that.”

Rice prices skyrocketed when the junta, taking the opportunity created by the world rice crisis, exported it to neighbouring countries instead.

Yangon and the low-lying Irrawady Delta areas form the rice bowl of the country, accounting for 70% of its rice production. The cyclone hit when the second rice crop was about to be harvested. Saline water from the tidal wave and other debris, including human remains, have made rice production uncertain in the months ahead.

In the rural areas of the Irrawady Delta and the west coast, the death toll was officially reported to be about 22,400, but international experts are estimating it to have crossed 100,000.

And, with the military junta dragging its feet over opening the doors to international aid, a greater catastrophic loss of life is predicted.

Even now, a medical volunteer has reported that an increasing number of people have been infected with fever and diarrhoea. There is also news of death from snakes and attacks from crocodiles near the flooded swampy areas.

It is feared that unless urgent action is taken, the death toll could be bigger, even more than that of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

John Holmes, the United Nation’s humanitarian chief, described the Myanmar cyclone crisis as “increasingly desperate” and urged for political pressure from world leaders to allow aid in.

But as an exiled Myanmar journalist dryly remarked: “Myanmar people were in trouble even before the cyclone. We needed the world’s help even earlier than this, way before the cyclone.”

The Star Online

Call to expedite special visas for volunteers to help cyclone victims in Myanmar

Call to expedite special visas for volunteers to help cyclone victims in Myanmar

Monday May 12, 2008

The Star Online Newspaper,Malaysia

Thai air force officers load dry food aid including rice, water and medical supplies donated of Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military juntas latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

PENANG: The Myanmar Government should issue special visas for volunteers to help the victims affected by Cyclone Nargis.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik said the special visa would enable help to reach Myanmar as soon as possible.

“We might not agree with Myanmar’s political ideology, but still it is human nature to help those in need,” he said.

Ng was speaking at the presentation of financial aid by Che Hoon Khor Moral Uplifting Society to senior citizens and orphans.

A cheque for RM10,000 was given to the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple for the Myanmar Cyclone Relief Fund.

Five Chinese schools also received RM2,000 each. They were Han Chiang High School, Heng Ee High School, Penang Chinese Girl (Private) High School, Chung Ling (Private) High School and Phor Tay (Private) High School.

Eleven institutions for orphans, senior citizens and the less fortunate were given a welfare fund of RM500 each.

Some 1,000 senior citizens present were given RM20 each while 500 orphans received RM10 each.

 

Photos: ‘Burma: Nargis aftermath, referendum and protests’ Part 2

Photos: ‘Burma: Nargis aftermath,

referendum and protests‘ Part 2

M&C

A handout picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows a four-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother sleep in a makeshift shelter after losing their home to the cyclone Nargis, near the village of Pyanpon in the southern Irrawaddy Division. Both have been ill with rashes and exhaustion, but have not received medical assistance.  EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

A handout picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows a four-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother sleep in a makeshift shelter after losing their home to the cyclone Nargis, near the village of Pyanpon in the southern Irrawaddy Division. Both have been ill with rashes and exhaustion, but have not received medical assistance. EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

This picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows a woman breastfeeding her infant in the temporary shelter of a monastery near the village of Pyanpon in the southern Irrawaddy Division. Behind them, another woman and child share the same bed. They have all been displaced by cyclone Nargis.  EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

This picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows a woman breastfeeding her infant in the temporary shelter of a monastery near the village of Pyanpon in the southern Irrawaddy Division. Behind them, another woman and child share the same bed. They have all been displaced by cyclone Nargis. EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

This picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows a boy lying on a stretcher in a makeshift hospital run by Myanmar Army doctors in the township of Kunyangon in the southern Yangon Division. He is being treated for injuries sustained in cyclone Nargis. On 10 May 2008 in Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are struggling to survive under increasingly desperate conditions in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the south-western coast on 3 May. The disaster killed at least 22,000 people and displaced 1 million across five states. An estimated 41,000 people are still missing, and at least 5,000 square kilometres of the densely populated Irrawaddy Delta, which bore the brunt of the storm, remain underwater. The displaced are living in congested shelters or in the open and lack access to drinking water, latrines, food and medical supplies. The conditions pose serious risks for outbreaks of infections and water-borne diseases. UNICEF is now distributing prepositioned emergency stocks, but these are not sufficient to meet critical needs that include clean drinking water, food, shelter materials, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, essential drugs and appropriate sanitation facilities.  EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

This picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows a boy lying on a stretcher in a makeshift hospital run by Myanmar Army doctors in the township of Kunyangon in the southern Yangon Division. He is being treated for injuries sustained in cyclone Nargis. On 10 May 2008 in Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are struggling to survive under increasingly desperate conditions in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the south-western coast on 3 May. The disaster killed at least 22,000 people and displaced 1 million across five states. An estimated 41,000 people are still missing, and at least 5,000 square kilometres of the densely populated Irrawaddy Delta, which bore the brunt of the storm, remain underwater. The displaced are living in congested shelters or in the open and lack access to drinking water, latrines, food and medical supplies. The conditions pose serious risks for outbreaks of infections and water-borne diseases. UNICEF is now distributing prepositioned emergency stocks, but these are not sufficient to meet critical needs that include clean drinking water, food, shelter materials, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, essential drugs and appropriate sanitation facilities. EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

Myanmar personnel works on top of the roof of Shwedagon Pagoda in the aftermath of Nargis cyclone in Yangon, Myanmar on 10 May 2008.  EPA/STR

Myanmar personnel works on top of the roof of Shwedagon Pagoda in the aftermath of Nargis cyclone in Yangon, Myanmar on 10 May 2008. EPA/STR

This picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows women clear the road of debris left by the cyclone, near the village of Pyapon in the southern Irrawaddy Division. On 10 May 2008 in Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are struggling to survive under increasingly desperate conditions in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the south-western coast on 3 May. The disaster killed at least 22,000 people and displaced 1 million across five states. An estimated 41,000 people are still missing, and at least 5,000 square kilometres of the densely populated Irrawaddy Delta, which bore the brunt of the storm, remain underwater. The displaced are living in congested shelters or in the open and lack access to drinking water, latrines, food and medical supplies. The conditions pose serious risks for outbreaks of infections and water-borne diseases. UNICEF is now distributing prepositioned emergency stocks, but these are not sufficient to meet critical needs that include clean drinking water, food, shelter materials, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, essential drugs and appropriate sanitation facilities.  EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

This picture made available by UNICEF on 10 May 2008 shows women clear the road of debris left by the cyclone, near the village of Pyapon in the southern Irrawaddy Division. On 10 May 2008 in Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are struggling to survive under increasingly desperate conditions in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the south-western coast on 3 May. The disaster killed at least 22,000 people and displaced 1 million across five states. An estimated 41,000 people are still missing, and at least 5,000 square kilometres of the densely populated Irrawaddy Delta, which bore the brunt of the storm, remain underwater. The displaced are living in congested shelters or in the open and lack access to drinking water, latrines, food and medical supplies. The conditions pose serious risks for outbreaks of infections and water-borne diseases. UNICEF is now distributing prepositioned emergency stocks, but these are not sufficient to meet critical needs that include clean drinking water, food, shelter materials, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, essential drugs and appropriate sanitation facilities. EPA/ADAM DEAN / UNICEF

 A Thai air force officer walks past dry food aid including rice, water and medical supplies donated of Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military juntas latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

A Thai air force officer walks past dry food aid including rice, water and medical supplies donated of Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military junta’s latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Thai air force officers load dry food aid including rice, water and medical supplies donated of Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military juntas latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Thai air force officers load dry food aid including rice, water and medical supplies donated of Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military junta’s latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Myanmar workers unload dry food, water and medical supplies transported by a C-130 Thai military transport aircraft at the airport, Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military juntas latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/STR

Myanmar workers unload dry food, water and medical supplies transported by a C-130 Thai military transport aircraft at the airport, Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military junta’s latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.

Thai air force officers load electric generators donated of Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailands Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military juntas latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Thai air force officers load electric generators donated of Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to a C-130 military transport aircraft to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar on 10 May 2008 . According to the Myanmar military junta’s latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK
Myanmar workers carry aid from China to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at Yangon airport, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. According to the Myanmar military juntas latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/STR
Myanmar workers carry aid from China to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis at Yangon airport, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. According to the Myanmar military junta’s latest figures, the Nargis cyclone which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000. EPA/STR
A group of Myanmar people works on a sunk boat and a broken bridge in an area affected by cyclone Nargis in a township of Yangon, Myanmar on 10 May 2008. On 10 May 2008 in Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are struggling to survive under increasingly desperate conditions in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the south-western coast on 3 May.  EPA/STR
A group of Myanmar people works on a sunk boat and a broken bridge in an area affected by cyclone Nargis in a township of Yangon, Myanmar on 10 May 2008. On 10 May 2008 in Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are struggling to survive under increasingly desperate conditions in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the south-western coast on 3 May. EPA/STR

 

Photos: ‘Burma: Nargis aftermath, referendum and protests’ Part 1

Photos: ‘Burma: Nargis aftermath,

referendum and protests’ Part 1

M&C

A Myanmar pro-democracy activist displays a replica ballot to vote No during a protest against the referendum on a new constitution outside Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Myanmars military rulers proceeded on May 10, 2008 to hold a referendum intended to cement their political power despite international appeals to postpone the vote in the wake of Cyclone Nargis that could have killed an estimated 100,000 people.  EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

A Myanmar pro-democracy activist displays a replica ballot to vote ‘No’ during a protest against the referendum on a new constitution outside Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Myanmar’s military rulers proceeded on May 10, 2008 to hold a referendum intended to cement their political power despite international appeals to postpone the vote in the wake of Cyclone Nargis that could have killed an estimated 100,000 people. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

epa A Myanmar pro-democracy activist holds a picture of cyclone Nargis victims alongs his comrades during a rally against the referendum on a new constitution outside Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Myanmars military rulers proceeded on May 10, 2008 to hold a referendum intended to cement their political power despite international appeals to postpone the vote in the wake of Cyclone Nargis that could have killed an estimated 100,000 people.  EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

A Myanmar pro-democracy activist holds a picture of cyclone Nargis victims alongs his comrades during a rally against the referendum on a new constitution outside Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Myanmar’s military rulers proceeded on May 10, 2008 to hold a referendum intended to cement their political power despite international appeals to postpone the vote in the wake of Cyclone Nargis that could have killed an estimated 100,000 people. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

A Myanmar pro-democracy activist lays a wreath and flowers for cyclone Nargis victims during a protest against the referendum on a new constitution outside Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Myanmars military rulers proceeded on May 10, 2008 to hold a referendum intended to cement their political power despite international appeals to postpone the vote in the wake of Cyclone Nargis that could have killed an estimated 100,000 people.  EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

A Myanmar pro-democracy activist lays a wreath and flowers for cyclone Nargis victims during a protest against the referendum on a new constitution outside Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2008. Myanmar’s military rulers proceeded on May 10, 2008 to hold a referendum intended to cement their political power despite international appeals to postpone the vote in the wake of Cyclone Nargis that could have killed an estimated 100,000 people. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

Myanmar soldiers are seen during cleanup efforts in Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000.  EPA/STR

Myanmar soldiers are seen during cleanup efforts in Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000. EPA/STR

A Burmese woman votes in the referendum on a new constitution, drafted by a military-appointed forum, in Hlegu Township, Yangon Division, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. The vote went ahead Saturday despite  international appeals to delay the controversial referendum totally to concentrate on providing emergency relief although it was postponed to May 24 in 47 of the townships worst-hit by the cyclone  An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 2 and 3, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000.  EPA/NYEIN CHAN NAING

A Burmese woman votes in the referendum on a new constitution, drafted by a military-appointed forum, in Hlegu Township, Yangon Division, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. The vote went ahead Saturday despite international appeals to delay the controversial referendum totally to concentrate on providing emergency relief although it was postponed to May 24 in 47 of the townships worst-hit by the cyclone An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 2 and 3, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000. EPA/NYEIN CHAN NAING
Myanmar soldiers are seen during cleanup efforts in Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000.  EPA/STR
Myanmar soldiers are seen during cleanup efforts in Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000. EPA/STR
A damaged residential building is pictured, Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000.  EPA/STR
A damaged residential building is pictured, Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000. EPA/STR
Myanmar soldiers are seen during cleanup efforts in Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000.  EPA/STR
Myanmars are seen during cleanup efforts in Yangon, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 02 and 03, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000. EPA/STR
A Burmese woman, her face covered in the Burmese tanaka powder, votes in the referendum on a new constitution, drafted by a military-appointed forum, in Hlegu Township, Yangon Division, Myanmar, 10 May 2008.  The vote went ahead Saturday despite  international appeals to delay the controversial referendum totally to concentrate on providing emergency relief although it was postponed to May 24 in 47 of the townships worst-hit by the cyclone  An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 2 and 3, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000.  EPA/NYEIN CHAN NAING
A Burmese woman, her face covered in the Burmese tanaka powder, votes in the referendum on a new constitution, drafted by a military-appointed forum, in Hlegu Township, Yangon Division, Myanmar, 10 May 2008. The vote went ahead Saturday despite international appeals to delay the controversial referendum totally to concentrate on providing emergency relief although it was postponed to May 24 in 47 of the townships worst-hit by the cyclone An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by Cyclone Nargis, which crashed in to the central coastal region on May 2 and 3, leaving 23,000 dead and 42,000 missing according to official figures. Others estimate the death toll could reach 100,000. EPA/NYEIN CHAN NAING
A Free Burma Rangers handout photo made available on 10 May 2008 shows survivors of cyclone Nargis at the worst hit area of Bogalay Township, Myanmar. In the wake of cyclone Nargis which may have killed as many as 100,000 people and left up to 1.9 million in need of emergency aid, has come at an awkward time for the regime.  EPA/FREE BURMA RANGERS
A Free Burma Rangers handout photo made available on 10 May 2008 shows survivors of cyclone Nargis at the worst hit area of Bogalay Township, Myanmar. In the wake of cyclone Nargis which may have killed as many as 100,000 people and left up to 1.9 million in need of emergency aid, has come at an awkward time for the regime. EPA/FREE BURMA RANGERS
A worker loads relief goods meant for survivors of Cyclone Nargis at IFRC International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) regional warehouse at Port Klang, Malaysia, 10 May 2008. Countries and aid agencies have met with red tape and delays from the regime as they seek to provide relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis, which crashed into central Myanmar May 2 and 3, leaving about 23,000 people dead, 42,000 missing and more than a million homeless and in need of food, water and medicine.  EPA/AHMAD YUSNI
A worker loads relief goods meant for survivors of Cyclone Nargis at IFRC International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) regional warehouse at Port Klang, Malaysia, 10 May 2008. Countries and aid agencies have met with red tape and delays from the regime as they seek to provide relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis, which crashed into central Myanmar May 2 and 3, leaving about 23,000 people dead, 42,000 missing and more than a million homeless and in need of food, water and medicine. EPA/AHMAD YUSNI
A forklift moves beside relief goods at IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) regional warehouse at Port Klang, Malaysia, 10 May 2008. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has warned of dire consequences if foreign aid workers continue to be denied access to Burma.  EPA/AHMAD YUSNI
A forklift moves beside relief goods at IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) regional warehouse at Port Klang, Malaysia, 10 May 2008. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has warned of dire consequences if foreign aid workers continue to be denied access to Burma. EPA/AHMAD YUSNI
epa A Cambodian driver prepares his truck loaded with aid material supplies to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis, at Phnom Penh cargo terminal, Cambodia, 10 May 2008. World Food Program (WFP), in Cambodia dispatches 121,107 tons of relief supplies including mobile warehouses, boats, motorcycles and electric machines to Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/MAK REMISSA
A Cambodian driver prepares his truck loaded with aid material supplies to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis, at Phnom Penh cargo terminal, Cambodia, 10 May 2008. World Food Program (WFP), in Cambodia dispatches 121,107 tons of relief supplies including mobile warehouses, boats, motorcycles and electric machines to Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000. EPA/MAK REMISSA
Cambodian workers load aid material supplies to a cargo plane to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis, at Phnom Penh cargo terminal, Cambodia, 10 May 2008. World Food Program (WFP), in Cambodia dispatches 121,107 tons of relief supplies including mobile warehouses, boats, motorcycles and electric machines to Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000.  EPA/MAK REMISSA
Cambodian workers load aid material supplies to a cargo plane to assist Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis, at Phnom Penh cargo terminal, Cambodia, 10 May 2008. World Food Program (WFP), in Cambodia dispatches 121,107 tons of relief supplies including mobile warehouses, boats, motorcycles and electric machines to Myanmar victims of Cyclone Nargis which hit the country claimed 22,997 lives, left 42,119 missing and 1,403 injured as other sources claim the real death toll is closer to 100,000. EPA/MAK REMISSA