My friends are starving, says a survivor

11 May 2008

Source: Mizzima

Days after Cyclone Nargis destroyed the Irrawady Delta, aid has yet to arrive in the most devastated regions.

One survivor from Laputta township told Mizzima, "My friends have nothing to eat or drink. They're starving." Laputta is situated at the mouth of Bay of Bengal.

According to the man, most of the suvivors are now taking refuge in the town of Laputta, in monasteries and schools. He himself made his way to Yangon to in the hope of getting aid from friends there.

He informed Mizzima that survivors themselves have had to carry out rescue operations, including retrieving the bodies of victims. However, constraints in resources meant that many of the bodies are still left in the water. Some villages are also still submerged in water.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, added:
"We had a small ceremony for my friend's family who perished. But we couldn't find their bodies. I doubt we'll ever find them."

He is one of the luckier ones who managed to escape the cyclone. His whole family survived. The residents, many of whom have lived along the coast all their lives, could not anticipate the magnitude of destuction that the cyclone brought upon them.

"We didn't even have time to run."

He told Mizzima that most of the villages were simply swept away by the cyclone, and many people were still unaccounted for. While he could not gave an accurate number of how many villages are in the area, he estimated that the number could be anywhere from 24 to 50.

"In the next village, only about 200 remain, out of a population of about 5000."

He said that most of his villagers survived the cyclone. However, the cyclone destroyed not only their houses, but also water wells, forcing the survivors to move into nearby towns such as the town of Laputta and Myaung Mya.

"There are corpses in the water wells, so the water is contaminated. And since we have nothing else to eat or drink, we had no choice but to move to the towns."

As the military government is refusing to let foreign aid workers enter the country, international aid agencies are still unable to get a clear picture of the extent of destruction or the aid required.

"We are still trying to see what is needed. We have not started distributing anything yet",said a Burmese aid worker who wished to remain anonymous.

The man, who had just recently returned from the Irrawady Delta region, added that the government was not allowing any foreigners to enter the area.

"They're only allowing local people to go in."

While the international community has sent hundreds of thousands worth of emergency supplies, as of Friday night, any of it has yet to reach the delta, the worst hit region. Distribution channels are already in place in some of the affected regions in Yangon state.

World's Food Programme Spokesman, Mr Paul Risley, told Mizzima on Friday that WFP will distribute 7 tonnes of high energy biscuits.

For the original article in Burmese, please click here.

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