Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cyclone damage spurs calls for aid as 3,000 homes suffer

Saturday, 23 October 2010 22:07 Mizzima News

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Cyclone Giri has carved a swathe of damage across dozens of townships in its path after it crossed the west coast of Burma yesterday, residents said, adding their calls for urgent relief aid and expertise.

The Category Four storm made landfall between the port of Sittwe and Kyaukphyu, Arakan State, at around 5 p.m. yesterday, with winds of up to 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) per hour, the state weather bureau reported last night.

Telephone contact with the area was interrupted overnight after the cyclone hit but a resident of Kyaukphyu contacted by phone on Saturday morning said the area had suffered badly, Reuters news agency and Mizzima reporters said.

“Everything is gone. All the trees and lamp posts have fallen. Many buildings were damaged. Many people were left homeless,” resident Ba Phyu told Reuters.

Residents reported widespread damage also across the severely hit townships of Myebon and Minbya and Sittwe, Ann, Pauktaw and Manaung, which had received sustained strong gales.

“We heard that Myebon was the most seriously damaged of all. We have strongly urged community organisations to carry out relief work. Our team members will go to Arakan State to that end,” Rangoon-based Arakan Friends Association secretary Tun Naing said.

“Currently, public transport is unavailable because of the traditional Thadingyut Festival [of lights, usually held at the end of Buddhist Lent]. As soon as that becomes available, we will leave for the state.”

Another Kyaukphyu resident provided more details on the extent of the damage, and told how earlier predictions of a storm surge hitting the area had become a reality.

“The cyclone brought a storm surge that was up to a man’s height … I heard that the power cuts would last for a month. I saw many local Red Cross members on the roads. But I see they’ve done nothing,” the resident from Kyaukphyu said.

He added that more than 3,000 houses, nearly all of the homes in 10 wards of Kyaukphyu, were damaged in the storm.

“There was no news of any casualties but the [nearby] dam was breached. Our town was seriously damaged. I didn’t think that the cyclone would be as fierce as that,” a resident from Saiditaung Ward in Kyaukphyu said.

All of the palm plantations and salt pans were also damaged.

Arakan Friends today opened a donation centre in Thamain Bayan Road in Tarmway Township, Rangoon, to help victims of the cyclone. The charity had received about 10 million kyat (about US$10,000), Tun Naing said.

More than 70 Arakanese social organisations will hold a meeting about potential cyclone relief efforts in the Arakan religious hall at the eastern archway of Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon tomorrow.

Giri spurred fears of a repeat of the destruction caused by Cyclone Nargis, which hit the Irrawaddy Delta region in May 2008, triggered a huge sea surge, killed at least 140,000 people, and affected up to 2.4 million people, making many homeless.

British analysts Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) of University College London at 9:30 p.m. Burma time (3 p.m. GMT) positioned the storm about 50 kilometres east of Sittwe, with maximum winds of 92 miles per hour.

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