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Cyclone weakens as it blows across Burma

Posted by ေက်ာက္ၿဖဴသားေခ် Monday, 25 October 2010

A cyclone that pounded western Burma, destroying buildings and cutting off contact with some areas, weakened on Saturday as it travelled through the country, with no casualties yet reported.
Cyclone Giri raged onto the coast of Rakhine state with winds of up to 193km/h on Friday, but was said to have since slowed to around 80km/h, state media said.
An official, who did not want to be named, said communication with the town of Kyaukphyu, in one of the worst-hit parts of Rakhine, was "very difficult".

"Many trees were toppled and some buildings were also destroyed. We have not received any casualty reports yet," he said.

The storm was heading northeast through the central part of the country and is forecast to "abate into a moderate storm", the Burmese newspaper said, quoting the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.
On Friday the Red Cross reported that authorities in Rakhine state had prepared disaster relief camps in preparation for the storm as the Meteorology office predicted sea levels could swell by as much as 3.7 metres .
Burma (also known as Myanmar) is frequently hit by tropical storms and in 2008 was battered by Cyclone Nargis, which left 138,000 people dead or missing, mostly in the southwest delta region.
Nargis unleashed winds of 240km/h and storm surges up to four metres high, sweeping away thousands of homes, flooding rice fields with salt water and ravaging schools and hospitals.
Burma's military government faced international criticism for its response to the disaster. It was accused of blocking emergency aid and initially refusing to grant access to humanitarian workers and supplies.

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