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Cyclone Death Toll and Destruction Rises in Arakan State

Posted by ေက်ာက္ၿဖဴသားေခ် Monday, 25 October 2010











The death toll and destruction in Arakan State following Cyclone Giri increases while the Burmese state-controlled media remains virtually silent on the disaster, while the UN offers relief help and the regime fails to reply.
So far, 26 bodies have been found in seven villages in Myebon Township, which was almost entirely flattened by the cyclone which slashed through Burma's western state near Kyaukpyu Township with winds of up to 120 miles per hour on Friday night, according to local residents.
The villages in Myebon Township where the bodies were found were Pyisaung Chaung, Myaing Thar, Pyonelay,Tawseik, Kyarintaung, Kyahin and Amyint Chaung.
“Myebon apparently was almost entirely destroyed. Only a few buildings are left,” said Thierry Delbreuve, the head of United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Rangoon, adding that the most affected areas were Kyaukpyu, Myebon and Pauktaw townships.
Storm victims walk on a road blocked by a fallen telephone poll after Cyclone Giri swept through the area of Kyaukphyu Township in Rakhine state in western Burma on Friday. (Photo: AP) 
“We heard from the Myanmar [Burma] Red Cross this morning that 16 people were killed and 40 injured. This is just the preliminary report,” he said. “There's been a lot of destruction, a lot of damage to infrastructure on the trajectory of the cyclone, but in terms of causalities we will need to wait for the assessment teams who are going to the areas.”
In its latest preliminary report, UNOCHA said that 4,500 people in five villages in Kyaukpyu were affected and one person was killed while 700 people in Munaung Township were  affected by the cyclone.
The five villages in Kyaukpyu were almost completely washed away and the houses were heavily damaged, according to Chang Hun Choe, the program coordinator of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society in Rangoon, who spoke with The Irrawaddy on Monday.
“As the assessment is going on, the number of the dead is on the rise.” he said. “All roads and telephone lines have been cut off. It's a bit hard to assess the affected areas.”
A local resident in Kyaukpyu said that 80 percent of the crops in Sittwe, Myebon, Ann and Kyaukpyu townships Arakan State were destroyed by the cyclone.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Thein Sein made no response when the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Rangoon, Bishow Parajuli, told him that the international community was ready and willing to help the cyclone victims, during a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the UN, according to UN sources.
Other Rangoon sources said that the UN's  international staff and international NGO staff are not allowed to enter the cyclone-affected areas and are restricted to Sittwe, the state's capital.
“Only the local [Burmese] staff are allowed to go to all the affected areas. International staff need special traveling permits,” said the source.
The state-controlled media has been virtually silent on the death toll and destruction of the cyclone.
On Sunday, the regime's media reported about a donation of US $10,000 ($100) and 1,000 bags of rice for cyclone victims.
On Monday, the front pages of state-run newspapers were filled with the news of junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe's tour of a seaport in Rangoon owned by Asia World Company, which has been on the US sanctions list since 2008. A small, two-column article on an inside page reported that two junior ministers in the transport and relief and resettlement ministries were sent to the area.
During the first week of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which left more than 130,000 dead in the Irrawaddy delta, Than Shwe did not visit the victims. The regime only reluctantly accepted international aid.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/highlight.php?art_id=19814

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