More than 100,000 people may have died in Myanmar from Tropical Cyclone Nargis and the tidal wave that followed it, according to U.S. diplomats quoted by various news agencies Wednesday.
That would make the cyclone the deadliest since 1991, when more than 138,000 died in Bangladesh. Both storms formed over the Bay of Bengal. The staggering toll in Bangladesh prompted it to improve its early warning and evacuation plans, which were credited with saving thousands of lives when Cyclone Sidr made landfall in November. Both Sidr and Nargis were Category 4 storms.
Myanmar's repressive military junta has been criticized for failing to adequately warn and evacuate the millions of residents in the path of the storm, which rapidly intensified against early predictions.
As much as two feet of rain fell in some parts of the low-lying Irrawaddy River Delta region, according to NASA estimates. The massive flooding and tidal wave was as deadly, if not more so, than the hurricane itself.
Besides the dead, hundreds of thousands, or millions, are without homes, clean water and food. Transportation and communications infrastructure is decimated. At least five prominent nongovernmental organizations are working with the United Nations and the government of Myanmar with the intention of helping the victims.
The troubled relationship Myanmar's repressive military junta has with the outside world complicates relief effort, and there have been conflicting reports about whether and how much international assistance the government is accepting. Most reports indicate that the government is allowing some aid to reach victims.
Here's a look at some of the groups working in the region. The Daily Green will update this list as more information becomes available.
Save the Children's staff is reporting that up to 100,000 children and their families are without shelter. Initial response activities include the distribution of 2 metric tons of food, plastic sheeting, water purification tablets and other nonfood items.
Myanmar Red Cross has already distributed thousands of family kits, containing clothing, blankets, cookware and hygiene supplies, and safe drinking water to schools and pagodas serving as emergency shelters. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released an initial $189,000 to support the Red Cross relief effort in Myanmar. Donations to the American Red Cross International Response Fund can aid the short- and long-term support efforts.
Or, call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish), contact your local American Red Cross chapter, or write to American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
This organization, which works on poverty in Southeast Asia, is mobilizing to provide shelter, food, clean water, blankets and mosquito nets to families in need.
UNICEF has deployed assessment teams in Myanmar and will focus on clean water, sanitation, hygiene, child protection and education. Immediate needs include: water purification tablets, plastic sheeting, cooking sets, bed nets, emergency health kits, and food.
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