Myanmar: Tropical Cyclone Nargis strikes Myanmar

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 – MYANMAR – Tropical Cyclone NARGIS – Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, sweeping through the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) delta region and the country’s largest city, Yangon. The authorities have declared five states and divisions (Yangon, Ayeyarwady, Bago, Mon and Kayin) to be disaster areas. Yangon sustained a direct hit, which downed power and communications lines, and inflicted major damage to buildings in the city. Many roads are blocked either by flooding or fallen debris. Damage was most severe in the delta region, where the effects of extreme winds were compounded by a sizable storm surge.

The number of people in need of assistance is expected to be considerable. The combined total population of the declared disaster areas is around 24 million. Roughly 6 million live in Yangon and a significant population is spread across the delta region.  More than 10,000 people have been killed in a tropical cyclone that struck at the weekend, Foreign Minister Nyan Win told state television, adding that his nation would welcome international aid.

The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, and the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that Canada is setting aside up to $2 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to Tropical Cyclone Nargis. The funds announced today will be provided as cash contributions to independent, impartial and neutral Canadian International Development Agency partners, who have the operational capacity to meet humanitarian needs.

The United Nations said hundreds of thousands of people had been left homeless when the storm, packing winds of 190 kilometres (120 miles) per hour, ripped through the countryside, destroying entire villages in its fury. Thousands of buildings were flattened as the furious cyclone also ripped power lines to shreds, uprooted trees that blocked key roads and disrupted water supplies in the main city and former capital, Yangon.

CMAT is monitoring the situation on the ground and will make further announcements on a relief plan shortly.