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Archive for May 15th, 2008

Myanmar junta warns people not to hoard aid

Yahoo news                                                                                                                

Myanmar junta warns people not to hoard aid

15 May 2008

Myanmar’s junta warned Thursday that legal action would be taken against people who trade or hoard international aid in the aftermath of this month’s devastating cyclone.

It was the first acknowledgment by the military government, albeit indirectly, of problems with relief operations in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which left at least 38,491 people dead and 27,838 missing.

The warning came amid reports that foreign aid was being sold openly in markets, and that the military was pilfering and diverting aid for its own use.

The ruling junta has been blasted by aid agencies for refusing to allow most foreign experts into the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta and not responding adequately to what they say is a spiraling crisis.

Relief workers also reported some storm survivors were being given spoiled or poor-quality food rather than nutrition-rich biscuits sent by international donors, adding to fears that the ruling military junta in the Southeast Asian country could be misappropriating assistance.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday that it had confirmed an Associated Press report that the military had seized high-energy biscuits that came from abroad, and distributed low-quality, locally produced biscuits to survivors.

Thursday’s radio announcement obliquely denied the military was misappropriating aid.

“The government has systematically accepted donations and has distributed the relief goods immediately and directly to the victims,” it said.

The government says 38,491 people are known dead and 27,838 missing in the May 2-3 cyclone. But the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimated the death toll was between 68,833 and 127,990. The U.N. says more than 100,000 may have died.

The U.N. and the Red Cross say between 1.6 and 2.5 million people are in urgent need of food, water and shelter. Only 270,000 have been reached so far by the aid groups.

Tons of foreign aid including water, blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, medicines and tents have been sent to Myanmar, but its delivery has been slowed down because of bottlenecks, poor infrastructure and bureaucratic tangles.

The junta insists on taking control of the distribution. It has allowed the U.N. and some other agencies to hand out the aid directly but prohibited their few foreign staff allowed into Myanmar from leaving Yangon, the country’s main city.

Police have turned back foreigners from checkpoints at the city’s exits.

“There is a visible fence around Yangon that we don’t dare cross. A circle has been drawn around Yangon and expats are confined there,” said Tim Costello of aid group World Vision.

He said the group has delivered aid to 100,000 people in spite of the “narrow parameters.” But there are tens of thousands more who haven’t received help because of heavy rain and lack of helicopters and expert staff.

“While you are getting aid through, it’s like getting it through on a 3-inch pipe not 30-inch pipe,” Costello said.

The regime insists it can handle the disaster on its own — a stance that appears to stem not from its abilities but its deep suspicion of most foreigners, who have frequently criticized its human rights abuses and crackdown on democracy activists.

In a clear sign that politics is playing a role, the junta granted approval to 160 relief workers from India, China, Bangladesh and Thailand, which have rarely criticized Myanmar’s democracy record.

With professional aid workers in short supply, ordinary citizens — including businessmen, housewives, monks, Christian priests and students — have rushed in to provide help.

But even Myanmar citizens are being restricted by the security forces, said Zaw Htin, a 21-year-old medical student who visited hard-hit Bogaley town on Wednesday.

“They (military) don’t want us to stay and talk to people. They want us to leave the supplies with them for distribution. But how can I treat them if I can’t talk to them? How do we administer medical care if we can’t touch them, feel their pulse or give them advice?” she said.

“It was overwhelming even for us who have seen a lot of suffering and death,” Zaw Htin said.

Also Thursday, the junta announced that voters had overwhelmingly backed a pro-military constitution in a referendum that was held one week after the cyclone.

Human rights organizations and dissident groups bitterly accused the junta of neglecting disaster victims in going ahead with the vote, and have criticized the proposed constitution as designed to perpetuate military rule.

State radio said the draft constitution was approved by 92.4 percent of the 22 million eligible voters. It put voter turnout Saturday at more than 99 percent of eligible voters in areas that went to the polls.

Voting was postponed until May 24 in the Irrawaddy delta and Yangon areas, which were worst hit by Cyclone Nargis. But state radio said the results of the late balloting could not mathematically reverse the constitution’s approval.

“People are dying and they are talking about the referendum?” said Kyaw Muang, a small food store owner in Yangon. “They (the generals) don’t even care about dying people, you think they care about democracy for living people?” he said.

“I don’t care about the referendum. It doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

Human Rights Watch also slammed the timing of the constitution announcement and questioned the accuracy of the results.

David Mathieson, a spokesman in Bangkok, Thailand, said the junta hopes that by announcing the results now it would divert attention away from its handling of the disaster and its refusal to cooperate with the international community.

“It seems strategically timed because you would have thought with how busy they were in cleaning up the cyclone that they never would have had time to count this properly,” he said.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080515/ap_on_re_as/myanmar

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A child is carried by a boy in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located near the Myanmar capital Yangon May 14, 2008. (Stringer/Reuters)

Reuters Photo: A child is carried by a boy in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located…

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm

World Focus on Burma (15 May 08) part 2

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Samaritan’s Purse allowed into Myanmar

OneNewsNow, MS –

Permission to begin the relief flights was received ten days after Cyclone Nargis ravaged Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The ruling military junta has …

Estimated 3.2 Million Burmese Potentially Affected By Cyclone

Science Daily (press release) –

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the researchers calculated the likely distribution of the population of Burma (also known as Myanmar) and …

Red Cross: Up to 128000 Dead in Burma

Democracy Now, NY –

The death toll from Burma’s Cyclone Nargis continues to rise. The military junta’s official toll is at thirty-eight thousand, with another 28000 missing.

Monitors needed to protect Myanmar aid–rights group

Inquirer.net, Philippines –

“The delivery of relief supplies can’t be left entirely in the hands of Burma’s abusive military, or aid simply won’t reach those most in need,” said Brad

His master’s voice

Guardian Unlimited, UK –

There is not a chance of this happening in Burma (we still call it Burma, unlike most of the rest of the world, which describes it as Myanmar: sooner or …

Myanmar storm survivors fear forced labor

United Press International –

RANGOON, Myanmar, May 15 (UPI) — Survivors of the Myanmar cyclone are reported being herded into government camps and fear they will used as forced labor. …

East Bay immigrants take earthquake and cyclone aid into their own …

Daily Review Online, CA –

Burmese immigrants have faced additional hurdles in trying to organize relief efforts in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in part because of political

ASEAN Chief upbeat on charter ratification

Zee News, India –

Surin’s remarks came despite Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s policy that her government will not ratify the charter if Myanmar’s military

Stallone returns as Rambo in special screenings

NewHampshire.com, NH –

Over the years, his character has helped run international rescue missions that led him to Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Afghanistan and Russia.

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TOM WATKINS: The people of Burma/Myanmar are swamped – please help

Novi News, MI –

devastation that surrounds many in Michigan, it may be difficult to hear the cries for help half way around the world in Myanmar, also known as Burma. …

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Following the deteriorating situation in Burma, Louis Michel calls ...

eGov monitor, UK – Commissioner Louis Michel has indicated that he intends to travel to Myanmar Burma next Tuesday, immediately after the meeting. There, he will meet with the …

ASEAN defends its response to Burma

Radio Australia, Australia – … entered Myanmar, the assessment team that ASEAN has put together. LOPRESTI: So in your view do you believe ASEAN is doing all it can in terms of Burma? …

Contrasting tale of two disasters

Adelaidenow, Australia – First, Cyclone Nargis left an estimated 100000 dead in Burma, with at least 1.5 million people homeless or in need. The toll climbs daily and United Nations …

Canadians off to Myanmar for relief work

Belleville Intelligencer, Canada –

Canadian emergency shelters are on their way to Myanmar thanks to a joint effort by the Canadian government and the Canadian Red Cross. …

MYANMAR: Cyclone devastates rice market

IRINnews.org, NY – “I think the overall projection is of incredible hardship,” said Sean Turnell, a Macquarie University expert on Myanmar and editor of Burma Economic Watch. …

China’s embrace leaves US in cold

Asia Times Online, Hong Kong – Since January 2006, China has unilaterally opened 83 trading items to zero tariffs for Cambodia, 91 for Laos, and 87 for Burma. China’s continued effort to …

No second cyclone but heavy rains threaten Burma

Bangkok Post, Thailand –

The US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii on Tuesday issued a cyclone warning for a gathering storm in the Bay of Bengal, offshore from central Myanmar, …

Brunei to send an official to Myanmar

Borneo Bulletin, Brunei Darussalam – By Azlan Othman Brunei will send an official from the Fire and Rescue Department to join the Asean Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ERAT) to assist Myanmar …

Burma approves pro-military constitution in referendum

AOL Canada, Canada –

However, Ban said he has now secured support from Burma, also known as Myanmar, its neighbours and key donors to increase the flow of cyclone relief aid and …

Myanmar tightens access to cyclone zone: reporters, aid groups

Macau Daily Times, Macau –

Myanmar’s ruling junta has tightened access to the cyclone disaster zone in the country’s south, frustrating aid groups trying to bring help to survivors, …

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Myanmar cyclone survivor faces a new battle
Los Angeles Times, CA –
Since the cyclone hit Myanmar, also known as Burma, on May 2-3, no doctor has visited the seven villages where local nurse U Tin Hling is the only trained …
Second Struggle For Survival Hartford Courant
Deep wounds and broken bones, but no medical aid Sydney Morning Herald
all 6 news articles »
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TV3 News

Burma founders while China copes
Toronto Star,  Canada –
Ironically, China’s lack of interest in pressuring its ally to let in emergency teams has increased the suffering in Burma (renamed Myanmar by the military …
A Tale of Two Disasters Forbes
Second Take Business Day
Disasters provide stark contrast The Nelson Mail
guardian.co.ukTV3 News
all 19 news articles »
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CTV.ca

Dealing with Burma’s junta
TheChronicleHerald.ca, Canada –
AS unbelievable as it sounds, Burma’s ruling military regime seems ready to allow tens, perhaps even hundreds, of thousands of its own citizens to die in …
Daniel Goldbloom on Cyclone Nargis, The Sichuan Earthquake and … National Post
Aid groups believe donations will get to Burma CTV.ca
In Burma, a UN Promise Not Kept Washington Post
Jacksonville Daily News
all 35 news articles »
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Burma (Myanmar) cyclone and earthquake in the People’s Republic of …
UQ News, Australia –
On behalf of the UQ community, I offer deepest condolences to students, staff, alumni and their families affected by the Burma (Myanmar) cyclone and the …
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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 15, 2008 at 11:13 am

World Focus on Burma (14 and 15 May 2008) part 1

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MYANMAR: Cyclone devastates rice market
IRINnews.org, NY –
“I think the overall projection is of incredible hardship,” said Sean Turnell, a Macquarie University expert on Myanmar and editor of Burma Economic Watch. …

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Burma approves pro-military constitution in referendum
AOL Canada, Canada –
However, Ban said he has now secured support from Burma, also known as Myanmar, its neighbours and key donors to increase the flow of cyclone relief aid and …

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Reporters in Burma live in fear
Media Guardian, UK – May 14, 2008
… according to Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy, a magazine and website produced by exiled Myanmar journalists in neighbouring Thailand. …
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AFP
Pressure on Myanmar to open up to cyclone aid
AFP – May 14, 2008
YANGON (AFP) — Top foreign officials headed Wednesday to Myanmar to press the defiant junta to open the doors to a massive cyclone relief effort for two …
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Deadbolt
… the world stage in the last week to share his thoughts about the human rights, humanitarian crisis in the country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. …
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The United Nations has sharply increased its estimate of those severely affected by Burma’s cyclone to 2.5m people up from the 1.5m previously thought to be …
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Prayer service for Myanmar victims set for Friday
Battle Creek Enquirer, MI – May 14, 2008
Laisum said those who attend Friday’s service may make donations to help pay for relief efforts in Burma, which the military regime renamed Myanmar in 1989. …
Myanmar: Welthungerhilfe starts distributing supplies in the …
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
“This guarantees that our aid is received by the people who really need it,” says Angela Schwarz, Welthungerhilfe’s Regional Co-ordinator in Myanmar/Burma. …

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We’re all human
Stockton Record, CA –
First, two weeks ago, it was a cyclone that swept across Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – that killed at least 32000 people. More than 29000 people are …
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Myanmar: Trucks with aid reaching the needy
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland – Despite roadblocks and bad weather conditions DanChurchAid’s partners are able to gain access to some of the worst hit areas in Burma. …
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BBC News
First Burma aid plane to leave UK
BBC News, UK –
The DEC Myanmar (Burma) cyclone appeal has received donations of over £6mn since it was launched last week. Among those who have contributed to the fund are …
His Holiness the Dalai Lama in aid of the Myanmar cyclone Phayul
Red Cross estimates up to 128000 died in Myanmar cyclone as heavy … International Herald Tribune
Aid beginning to trickle through to Burma cyclone victims ABC Online
PRESS TV – Times Online
all 736 news articles »

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Church World Service (press release)
CWS – Local Organizations Make Difference in Relief Delivery in …
Worldwide Faith News (press release), NY –
BANGKOK, May 13, 2008–Ten days after cyclone Nargis devastated parts of Myanmar (Burma), as tens of thousands of people still wait for assistance, …
Myanmar: MCC seeks $200000 for cyclone relief and recovery ReliefWeb (press release)
MCC launches cyclone relief for Burma Abbotsford Times
all 6 news articles »
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Singapore: Myanmar to attend ASEAN emergency meeting to discuss …
International Herald Tribune, France – Myanmar, also called Burma, has long been a source of embarrassment to ASEAN, largely because of its junta’s failure to fulfill promises to restore …
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The Associated Press
UN chief secures support for more access in Myanmar
The Associated Press –
… who proposed that the UN convene an emergency summit on Myanmar, which is formerly known as Burma, and that Ban possibly visit the country. …
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Voices from Myanmar: How the cyclone first hit
Seattle Times, United States –
It is where Cyclone Nargis first struck land in Myanmar, also known as Burma, about midnight Nov. 2. The storm went on to clear a path through the delta, …
Curfew in Myanmar villages News24
all 5 news articles »
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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 15, 2008 at 11:05 am

Myanmar approves new constitution while it reels

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Yahoo news / AP

Myanmar approves new constitution while it reels

Myanmar’s junta announced Thursday that a pro-military constitution has won overwhelming support in a referendum, which was held despite widespread criticism and in the midst of a national tragedy — a devastating cyclone that the Red Cross says may have killed more than 125,000 people.

State radio said the draft constitution, which critics dismissed as a sham document designed to entrench the military’s rule, was approved by 92.4 percent of the 22 million eligible voters. It put voter turnout at more than 99 percent.

Voting was postponed until May 24 in the Irrawaddy delta and Yangon areas, which were worst hit by Cyclone Nargis. But state radio said the results of the late balloting could not mathematically reverse the constitution’s approval.

Myanmar’s government issued a revised casualty toll Wednesday night, saying 38,491 were known dead and 27,838 were missing.

But the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said its estimate put the number of dead between 68,833 and 127,990.

Even though the figures seemed precise, spokesman Matthew Cochrane said they were not based on body counts, but were only estimate designed to provide Red Cross donors and partner organizations with an idea of the numbers being discussed within the aid community.

U.N. officials have said there could be more than 100,000 dead in the May 2-3 cyclone.

With up to 2.5 million people in urgent need of food, water and shelter, aid agencies were preparing or moving in a wide-range of relief supplies including material for temporary shelters, rice, drinking water, kitchen utensils and medicines, including 2,000 anti-snake bite kits.

The World Health Organization said an increase in snake bites was feared in coming days. U.N. agencies and other voluntary groups have been able to reach only 270,000 of the affected people.

But instead of accepting foreign help freely, the government continued to issue only a few visas to foreign aid experts, and all but shut them out of the hardest-hit areas.

The regime insists it can handle the disaster on its own — a stance that appears to stem not from its abilities but its deep suspicion of most foreigners, who have frequently criticized its human rights abuses and crackdown on democracy activists.

Critics see the May 9 referendum as another attempt by the junta to stifle democracy. In a country ruled by the feared military since 1962, few would have dared to vote against the constitution. Human rights groups dismissed the vote as a mockery, saying government officials were told to mark the ballots with “Yes” ticks for those who failed to show up at polling stations by 1 p.m.

The junta says the new constitution will lead to a general election in 2010. But it guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military and allows the president to hand over all power to the military in a state of emergency — elements critics say contradict the junta’s professed commitment to democracy.

The junta’s iron-fisted rule has been clearly demonstrated in the way it has dealt with international humanitarian agencies offering their services in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

The junta has limited international staff to Yangon, and has also used police to keep foreigners out of the delta. It did grant approval for a Thai medical team to visit the delta as early as Friday.

Amanda Pitt of the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs said that unless the disaster response was improved, more lives would be lost. “It is clearly inadequate, and we do not want to see a second wave of deaths as a result of that not being scaled up,” she said.

Meanwhile, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said that countries delivering aid should insist on monitoring to ensure aid reaches the cyclone victims most in need and to prevent the military government from seizing it.

It said it has confirmed an Associated Press report this week that the junta had seized high-protein biscuits supplied by the international community and distributed low-quality, locally produced substitutes to the people.

“Simply dropping aid off at (the) airport under the control of the abusive and ill-equipped … military will not necessarily help victims of the cyclone,” it said.

The junta also said Wednesday it would accept 160 relief workers from India, China, Bangladesh and Thailand, though it was not clear if anyone but the Thais would be permitted to go to the delta.

On Thursday, the U.N. said that an emergency rapid assessment team from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, would also head into Myanmar within 24 hours to assess the most critical needs.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080515/ap_on_re_as/myanmar;_ylt=AlRx5FbIleO8FhaO9p4l6qVvaA8F

Yahoo Full Coverage: Myanmar

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 15, 2008 at 8:12 am

Pictures (3): Nargis cyclone in Burma

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These pictures taken in the aftermath of Cyclone Nagis in Burma are grabbed from various online sources.

A baby is held by her mother as they wait for free rice from the government in the outskirts of Yangon, Burma on Thursday May 8, 2008 (AP)

A Burmese boy looks on while another sleeps at a temporary shelter on the outskirts of Yangon, Burma, on Friday, May 9, 2008 (AP)

A Burmese father, who survived from killer cyclone Nargis, takes care his son as they take shelter at a monastery at Bogalay, Burma on Friday, May 9, 2008 (AP)

A Burmese woman displaced following Cyclone Nargis, fans her baby at a temporary shelter on the outskirts of Yangon, Burma, on Friday, May 9, 2008 (AP)

A helicopter carrying aid lands in Bogalay, Burma, Friday May 9, 2008 (AP)

A man looks at the damage in hard-hit Twantay township, southern Burma on Friday, May 9, 2008 (AP)

A woman and her children await free rice rations provided by the government on the outskirts of Yangon, Burma on Thursday May 8, 2008 (AP)

A worker tries to stop pigeons from eating packages of rice in Yangon, Burma on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 (AP)

A young cyclone survivor holds her baby sister at a temporary shelter on the outskirts of Yangon, Burma, Friday, May 9, 2008 (AP Photo)

AFP-HlaHlaHtay – Clearing the debris.

AP – A resident walks past a tree fallen by a devastating cyclone in Yangon, Burma on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

AP- A Burmese girl makes her way past a bus station destroyed in Yangon

AP- A Burmese man sits under a fallen tree following the weekend’s devastating cyclone in Yangon, Burma on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

AP- Barry Broman – Residents work to move an electrical pole following cyclone Nargis in Yangon, Burma

AP- DVB- HO – In this photo released by Democratic Voice of Burma, giant billboard falls on a street in Yangon on Sunday May 4, 2008.

AP-A resident passes under a fallen tree following the devastating cyclone in Yangon

AP-An advertising board is seen fallen following last weekend’s devastating cyclone in Yangon

AP-Aung Pu via New Words – This handout photo made on May 4, 2008, and released Monday, May 5, 2008, shows the damaged No. 3 State High School, on the outskirts of Rangoon, Burma

AP-Aung Pu via New Words – This handout photo made on May 4, 2008, and released Monday, May 5, 2008, shows the Labor Residential Area in Shan Kyaung Ward on the outskirts of Rangoon, Burma

AP-Barry Broman – A bicycle taxi driver moves along through an area damaged by cyclone Nargis in Yangon, Burma on Sunday, May 4, 2008

AP-Barry Broman – A Burmese Buddhist Monk makes his way past a fallen tree following a devastating cyclone, in Yangon on Sunday, May 4, 2008

AP-Barry Broman – A resident of Yangon races for cover during as cyclone Nargis slams into the former capital of Myanmar Saturday, May 3, 2008

AP-Barry Broman – Residents clean up outside a restaurant destroyed by a devastating cyclone in Yangon, Burma on Sunday, May 4, 2008

AP-Barry Broman – Residents work to remove storm damage in Yangon, Burma following cyclone Nargis

AP-Barry Broman – Western tourists make their way past electrical pole in Yangon, Burma following cyclone Nargis.

AP-Barry Broman – Western tourists make their way through fallen debris in Yangon, Burma following cyclone Nargis

AP-Burmese men sit under a billboard uprooted during the weekend’s devastating cyclone in Yangon

AP-NASA – This image provided by NASA’s MODIS instrument on board the Aqua satellite shows Cyclone Nargis in the Bay of Bengal Friday May 2, 2008

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 15, 2008 at 6:49 am

Posted in ဓါတ္ပံု

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Burma: Cyclone updated top news (15 May 2008)

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(Yahoo) Myanmar warns citizens not to hoard cyclone aid

Video 2nd storm

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Sydney Morning Herald

Foreign powers lean on Myanmar to open up aid
Reuters – By Aung Hla Tun YANGON, May 15 (Reuters) – Western powers kept up the pressure on Myanmar’s generals on Thursday to allow a massive aid effort as relief workers struggled to help an estimated 2.5 million people left destitute by Cyclone Nargis.
Myanmar’s Neighbors Plan Cyclone `Coalition of Mercy’ (Update1) Bloomberg
UN Secretary-General To Send Aid Chief To Myanmar RTT News
United Press InternationalThe Associated PressReuters IndiaInternational Herald Tribune
all 843 news articles »

Red Cross: Up to 128,000 may have died in Myanmar

A child is carried by a boy in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located near the Myanmar capital Yangon May 14, 2008. (Stringer/Reuters)

Reuters Photo: A child is carried by a boy in a village affected by Cyclone Nargis located…
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U.N.: Up to 2.5 million affected by Myanmar cyclone Aid Groups Say Myanmar Food Stolen by Military
New York Times –
By THE NEW YORK TIMES YANGON, Myanmar – The directors of several relief organizations in Myanmar said Wednesday that some of the international aid arriving into the country for the victims of Cyclone Nargis was being stolen, diverted or warehoused by
Myanmar Should Open Corridor for Cyclone Aid, UN Says (Update2) Bloomberg
UN warns of ‘second wave of deaths’ as Myanmar braces for new cyclone Los Angeles Times
Monsters and Critics.comThe Associated PressAljazeera.netReuters
all 5,124 news articles »

Photos

The Southern Ledger

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 15, 2008 at 3:12 am