Tropical Cyclone Nargis — the aftermath

Will update with latest news on the aftermath of Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Nargis, which hit Burma (Myanmar)1 last weekend.

1800 UTC Friday May 16: State media is now reporting an official death toll of near 78,000 people. Another 56,000 are missing.

1140 UTC Wednesday May 14: The tropical disturbance previously located in the Gulf of Martaban has moved over the Irrawaddy delta and could become a cyclone in the next 24 hours. However, while it will bring more rains and some gales to the delta, it will more likely make landfall in Bangladesh.

0825 UTC Tuesday May 13: Burma continues to insist that no foreign aid workers are required in the country. A new tropical disturbance has developed over and south of the Irrawaddy delta and is moving north. It is likely not to have enough time to develop into a cyclone, but will bring heavy rains to the delta.

1430 UTC Monday May 12: BBC News ticker: “LATEST: Burma says 31,938 died in this month’s devastating cyclone.”

0945 UTC Monday May 12: That U.S. aid plane has now landed in Rangoon.

0630 UTC Monday May 12: The BBC reports that the first U.S. aid flight to Burma has taken off from Bangkok. Three Doctors Without Borders (MSF) flights are also due in Burma today.

1345 UTC Sunday May 11: A cargo ship carrying enough aid for 1,000 survivors has crashed into a submerged tree and sunk in the Irrawaddy delta, dealing a blow to relief efforts. All on board survived.

1325 UTC Sunday May 11: New toll from the junta: 28,458 dead; 33,416 missing.

1250 UTC Sunday May 11: Reports that the Burmese junta has let the WFP distribute 38 tonnes of its aid which had been impounded in Rangoon upon arrival. If this is true and the junta are no longer controlling the distribution it’s good news.

0720 UTC Sunday May 11: Daily Mail journalist reports that two trucks of UN aid were driven to an abandoned pagoda and left there without distribution. Shameful.

0100 UTC Sunday May 11: The UN says that it fears only a quarter of aid has reached survivors of the cyclone. The ICRC has said it hopes seven more flights will arrive before Monday — but will they all be impounded?

1525 UTC Saturday May 10: Two more WFP aid planes have had their cargo impounded upon arrival in Rangoon. The junta continues to insist it will control aid distribution, severely hampering relief efforts. This also means that the eastern states of Burma bordering Thailand will likely see little to no aid, as there is an uprising against the junta there.

0755 UTC Saturday May 10: There’s a new official toll. The BBC is now reporting the official toll to be 23,335 dead; 37,019 missing.

0145 UTC Saturday May 10: CNN’s Dan Rivers — now out of Burma — reports that there was a massive police effort to find him while he was in the country. If the junta are now going after foreign journalists, they are wasting crucial resources and time on this instead of helping survivors. Another reason to pressure the junta more.

0130 UTC Saturday May 10: BBC reports “There are reports that a senior general over-rode requests from his officers to divert army resources to help the cyclone victims – in order to maintain security for the [constitutional referendum].” Two correspondents in the Irrawaddy delta are now reporting outbreaks of dysentery. The Burmese UN envoy now claims that his country is ready to accept help from anyone.

(Older updates after the jump)

1710 UTC Friday May 9: BBC reports “The US says Burma will allow one US aircraft to land with aid on Monday.” Monday? That’s far too late.

1600 UTC Friday May 9: The WFP will resume aid flights to Burma, despite the military regime confiscating a prior aid package upon landing in Rangoon. The Thai foreign minister told the BBC he would be talking to his Burmese counterpart soon to try to get clearance for more foreign aid.

1225 UTC Friday May 9: The World Food Programme is halting aid to Burma with immediate effect after the Burmese military regime impounded the first shipment of relief supplies upon entry into Burma. That’s enough. It’s time for the junta to be disregarded and time for the world to take a stand against this genocide.

0815 UTC Friday May 9: “In a foreign ministry statement carried by The New Light of Myanmar daily, Burma’s government said it would welcome cash and emergency aid.” — BBC. Cash? Burmese regime? No effing way. If you’re donating, ONLY DONATE TO RELIABLE CHARITIES OR DONATE IN KIND. Donating in cash directly will only mean the Burmese junta’s pockets fatten up while people die.

0000 UTC Friday May 9: As you may have seen from the BBC News RSS feed over to the right, there is growing concern and frustration over Burma’s refusal to let more aid in. However, for some reason, the Americans have ruled out flying aid in without permission — as France wants the UN to do. China and Indonesia, two members of the UNSC, have opposed this, saying it shouldn’t be politicised. However, when a lack of action could see up to 1,000,000 homeless people die, you cannot say it’s politicisation — are Beijing and Jakarta willing to take responsibility for those who die?

1155 UTC Thursday May 8: The UN says that its first aid flight has now landed in Burma. The BBC now reporting that contrary to earlier reports, the US says it has not yet been cleared to land aid in Burma. The BBC is quoting the American ambassador in Bangkok, Thailand, Mr Eric John, as saying “we and our Thai allies thought we had a decision from the Burmese leadership to let the C-130 in. As of now, we don’t have that decision; I don’t know whether they rescinded the decision or if there was a miscommunication.”

0935 UTC Thursday May 8: Burma is now allowing American aid into the country, the BBC reports. However, three UN flights are still pending clearance. ASEAN and China have both now piled pressure on the regime to allow foreign aid in, following a US appeal for them to do so.

0625 UTC Thursday May 8: The official death toll has been raised to just short of 23,000. The new number — 22,980. Missing: 42,119.

2345 UTC Wednesday May 7: Sky News and the BBC are both reporting comments by the top American diplomat in Rangoon, Ms Shari Villarosa, that she fears the death toll could top six digits — 100,000 — if aid does not get to the people who need it quickly enough.

1230 UTC Wednesday May 7: The UN is saying that the death toll could rise to around 60,000, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, the Telegraph says that 36 political prisoners at Insein Prison in Rangoon were shot dead after inmates started rioting. Also, the U.S. State Dept. has now issued a travel warning advising Americans to “defer non-essential travel to Burma at this time” and, if in Burma, to “strongly consider departing Burma on commercially available flights”.

1010 UTC Wednesday May 7: BBC reporting that Burma has approved an UN aid package for the country and will allow in aircraft carrying 25 tonnes of aid. You can see a UN map of the worst hit areas here.

1200 UTC on Tuesday May 6: both state radio and opposition sources have the death toll around 22,000 — with state radio saying another 41,000 are missing. This makes Nargis the deadliest cyclone this millennium, and it’s been deadlier than all Atlantic hurricanes in history if you count the missing as dead.

The military junta in Naypyidaw has called for international aid — a rare event, considering it refused aid after the 2004 tsunami — and the United States already has aid on the way, pending Burmese approval. Singapore has also reportedly sent aid in the region of US$200,000.

The junta has postponed a referendum on a new junta-drafted constitution to May 24 in the affected regions, although the rest of the country will still go to the polls on May 10. However, this could be the catalyst for some serious changes in Burma.

Note:
The following are interchangeable, and for this blog post the former is used:
Burma = Myanmar, the country northwest of Thailand
Rangoon = Yangon, the former capital and biggest city of Burma
Irrawaddy = Ayeyarwaddy, the delta basin region hardest hit by the cyclone

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2 Responses

  1. Google posted on their homepage a way to directly donate to Unicef and DirectRelief International. Go Google!

  2. I hope that the People of Burma, will get the help they
    need…

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