GeriGündem Turkey sends Myanmar one million dollars in aid
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Turkey sends Myanmar one million dollars in aid

Turkey sends Myanmar one million dollars in aid
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The Turkish Foreign Ministery said on Thursday Turkey is sending Myanmar one million dollars to help relief efforts as a top U.S. diplomat warned that the death toll from a devastating cyclone could top 100,000. (UPDATED)

Turkey has pledged one million dollars to aid relief efforts after a devastating cyclone killed tens of thousands in Myanmar, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"The sum is being urgently transferred," the statement said. 

Turkey's Red Crescent also announced it would send a financial aid of $600,000 dollars to Myanmar.

"We immediately sent a four-people team to help survivors of the devastating cyclone which claimed lives of tens of thousands of people. Our team arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia. But they could not yet get permission from the military junta in Myanmar to enter the country. Once they are allowed, they will distribute relief supplies such as water, medicine and baby food," Tekin Kucukali, chairman of the Red Crescent Association said on Thursday.

"Also there is a Turkish martyrium in Myanmar where 1,500 Turkish soldiers, who were taken hostage by Britons during the World War I, were laid to rest. The martyrium was damaged in the cyclone. Our team will also deal with restoration of the martyrium," he added.

Myanmar's junta has given the U.S. military permission to fly in relief supplies for the survivors of Cyclone Nargis as a top U.S. diplomat warned that the death toll from the cyclone could top 100,000.

"We have helped the Americans to talk to the Myanmar government to allow U.S. planes participating in Cobra Gold to fly humanitarian aid to Myanmar. They just agreed," Thai Supreme Commander Boonsrang Niumpradit told Reuters on Thursday, referring to joint U.S.-Thai military exercises.  

A U.S. embassy official confirmed the decision to Reuters and Boonsrang said the first flights could leave Thailand within a day or two. "They were very suspicious that the Americans would do more than just distribute relief supplies, but we helped convince the Burmese to allow the Americans in," Boonsrang added.

The decision is a surprise given the huge distrust and acrimony between the former Burma's generals and Washington, which has imposed tough sanctions to try to end decades of military rule.

However, international pressure had been building on the junta to throw its doors wide open to an international relief operation for the worst cyclone to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people were killed in neighboring Bangladesh.

Aid has been trickling into one of the world's most isolated and impoverished countries, although experts feared it would be too little to cope with the aftermath of Nargis, which left up to 100,000 feared dead and one million missing.

The minutes of a U.N. aid meeting obtained by The Associated Press revealed the military junta's visa restrictions were hampering international relief efforts.

Only a handful of U.N. aid workers had been let into the impoverished Southeast Asian country, which the government has kept isolated for five decades to maintain its iron-fisted control. The U.S. and other countries rushed supplies to the region, but most of it was being held outside Myanmar while awaiting the junta's permission to deliver it.

Myanmar's state media said Cyclone Nargis killed at least 22,980 people and left 42,119 missing. However, American diplomat Shari Villarosa, who heads the U.S. Embassy in Yangon, said the number of dead could eventually exceed 100,000 because safe food and water were scarce and unsanitary conditions widespread.

The situation is "increasingly horrendous," she said in a telephone call to reporters. "There is a very real risk of disease outbreaks."

Myanmar's state television Thursday showed Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Thein Sein distributing food packages to the sick and injured in the delta and soldiers dropping food over villages. The date of the distributions was not given.

U.N. officials estimated some 1 million people had been left homeless in Myanmar, which also is known as Burma.

Cyclone Nargis, which means "daffodil" in Urdu, slammed into coastal towns and villages in the rice-growing delta southwest of Yangon on Saturday. 

State television said Myanmar would accept aid from any country. It also said planes flew in Wednesday with tents from Japan, medicine and clothing from Bangladesh and India, packets of noodles from Thailand and dried bacon from China. The first U.N. flights, carrying 45 metric tons of high energy biscuits, were due to arrive early Thursday.


Hungry people swarmed the few open shops and fistfights broke out over food and water in Myanmar's swamped Irrawaddy delta Wednesday.

Entire villages in the Irrawaddy delta were still submerged from Saturday's storm, and bloated corpses could be seen stuck in the mangroves. Some survivors stripped clothes off the dead. People wailed as they described the horror of the torrent swept ashore by the cyclone.

A spokesman for the U.N. Children's Fund told AP its staff in Myanmar reported seeing many people huddled in rude shelters and children who had lost their parents.

"There's widespread devastation. Buildings and health centers are flattened and bloated dead animals are floating around, which is an alarm for spreading disease. These are massive and horrific scenes," Patrick McCormick said at UNICEF offices in New York.

Photo: AFP



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