Crisis Deepens in Burma as Cyclone Toll Passes 22,000
As more details of the devastation left by Cyclone Nargis in Burma emerge, it’s becoming clear that the storm is one of the worst disasters in years. The Burmese government is being criticized for responding inadequately and too slowly to the crisis, and President Bush, himself no stranger to this kind of criticism, is calling on Burma’s “military junta … [to] allow our disaster assessment teams into the country” in order to help.
State media reported on Tuesday that 22,464 people had now been confirmed as dead and an additional 41,054 people missing as a result of the cyclone.
Almost all of the deaths occurred in the Irrawaddy river delta region, where more were killed by the tidal wave than the cyclone itself, Minister for Relief and Resettlement Maung Maung Swe told reporters in Rangoon.
“The wave was up to 12ft [3.5m] high and it swept away and inundated half the houses in low-lying villages,” he said. “They did not have anywhere to flee.”
Some 95% of the homes in the city of Bogalay in the Irrawaddy delta were destroyed and most of its 190,000 residents are now homeless, he added.