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    Death toll rising in cylcone devastated Myanmar city

    04.05.2008 - 14:16 | Son Güncelleme:

    More than 350 people have died in Myanmar in a powerful cyclone that knocked out power in the impoverished countrys commercial capital and destroyed thousands of homes, state-run media said Sunday. (UPDATED)

    It said at least 351 people were killed by Tropical Cyclone Nargis, including 162 who lived on Haing Gyi island off the countrys southwest coast. Many of the others died in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

    Myanmar's military government declared disaster areas in five states on Sunday after a Category 3 cyclone tore through the Irrawaddy delta, flattening two towns and killing at least four people in Yangon, state media said.

    Packing winds of 190 km (120 miles) per hour when it hit on Saturday morning, Cyclone Nargis devastated the former Burma's leafy main city, littering the streets with overturned cars, fallen trees and debris from battered buildings.

    "Utter war zone," one Yangon-based diplomat said in an email to Reuters in Bangkok. "Trees across all streets. Utility poles down. Hospitals devastated. Clean water scarce."

    Official newspapers still being printed in Yangon said only one in four buildings were left standing in Laputta and Kyaik Lat, two towns deep in the rice-producing delta and accessible mainly by boat. There was no mention of casualties.

    In Yangon, many roofs were ripped off even sturdy buildings, suggesting damage would be severe in the shanty towns that sit on the outskirts of the sprawling riverside city of 5 million people.

    Foreign aid workers, whose movements are restricted by the ruling military junta, had not managed to reach many impoverished areas to assess the impact. "I have never seen anything like it," one retired government worker told Reuters. "It reminded me of when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States."

    Although the sun was shining by Sunday morning, the former capital was without power and water, and food prices had doubled, with many storeholders unsure of when they would be able to replenish stocks. Most shops had sold out of candles.

    An Electricity Board official said it was impossible to know when the power supply -- hit-and-miss at the best of times in one of Asia's poorest countries -- would be restored.

    Photo: AFP




    An official at Yangon International Airport said all incoming flights had been diverted to the second city of Mandalay, in the middle of the southeast Asian nation, and all departures from Yangon had been cancelled.

    Thai Airways in Bangkok said flights would not resume before Monday.

    State media said four vessels sank in Yangon harbor, and jetties in ports had come loose.


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