Myanmar survivors fight for life

Cyclone survivors struggle to find food, water and shelter as they wait for aid.

    A million people are estimated to have been
    made homeless by the storm[AFP]
    Paul Risley, a spokesman for the UN World Food Programme in Bangkok, said a few shops had reopened in the hardest-hit delta, but they were quickly overwhelmed by desperate people.

     

     

    In depth: Myanmar cyclone

    Witness: 'Utter devastation'



    Millions displaced


    Generals' grip threatened


    Storm smashes Myanmar 'rice bowl'

    Map: Cyclone's deadly path


    Satellite photos:


    Before and after



    Timeline: Asia's worst storms



    Picture gallery



    Video: Villag

    e at heart of disaster

    Video: No help reaching Myanmar survivors

    "Fistfights are breaking out," he said, citing information from aid workers on the ground.

     

    Shelter is desperately needed with around a million people homeless.

     

    In video footage shot by a Myanmar journalist for The Associated Press, thousands who lived through the cyclone's fury - most losing homes and family members – were seen arriving in the rice-trading town of Labutta, the only bit of high ground in a vast watery landscape.

     

    The town was battered by the storm but many buildings were still standing and helping hands awaited the new arrivals.

     

    Some survivors arrived half-naked, others wore clothes they scavenged from the dead.

     

    Fuel shortages meant many made the journey in rickety wooden boats with makeshift sails fashioned out of blankets, filled to overflowing with survivors from the 51 surrounding towns and villages, most now under water.

     

    They dodged bloated corpses of buffaloes and dead neighbours floating in the murky waters - a journey from horror to misery for most, who described desperate hours clinging to trees and debris, followed by days of waiting for aid to arrive.

     

    "Aid still hasn't arrived," said 38-year-old Khin Khin Mya. "My mother, children and husband got separated ... Every day I wait for the rescue boats, hoping to see them at the jetty."

     

    Many survivors were shaking and had trouble telling their tales. Some were angry, but only a few were willing to give their names, fearful of retribution by the military government even in their state.

     

    Hundreds of people were taking shelter at the Aung Daw Mu temple, where the monks were seen making places for newcomers to sleep and drying out blankets as children scurried about.

     

    A private charity group, the Free Funeral Service Society, had set up a couple of big woks nearby to cook for survivors.

     

    Many survivors are still waiting
    for aid to arrive [AFP]

    The town hospital was devoid of first aid supplies, medicine or equipment, and no doctors were in sight. Desperate relatives tended to the injured with rusty sewing needles and thread.

     

    Richard Horsey, the Thailand-based spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Aid, said "basically the entire lower delta region is under water".

     

    Patrick McCormic, a spokesman for Unicef, the UN Children's Fund, in New York said its staff in Myanmar were reporting seeing many people huddled in rough shelters and children who had lost their parents.

     

    "There's widespread devastation," he said.
     
    "Buildings and health centres are flattened and bloated dead animals are floating around, which is an alarm for spreading disease. These are massive and horrific scenes."
     
    Aid commitments to Myanmar

    Organisations

     

    United Nations: Will release a minimum of $10m, launching a "flash appeal" to raise much more money.

     

    International Red Cross: $189,000. Relief workers distributing drinking water, clothing, food, plastic tarpaulins and hygiene kits.

     

    Myanmar Red Cross: 5 billion kyats ($4.5m) for relief and resettlement work. Distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and water purification tablets.

     

    Australian World Vision: $2.8m for first month of relief operations.

     

    Countries

     

    European Commission: $3m for fast-track humanitarian aid.

     

    US: $3m, up from initial $250,000 immediate emergency aid.

     

    China: $500,000 in cash; materials including tents, blankets and biscuits worth a further $500,000.

     

    India: Two naval ships loaded with food, tents, blankets, clothing and medicines sent to Yangon.

     

    Japan: $267,570 worth of emergency aid in tents, power generators and other supplies.

     

    Australia: Initial $2.8m in emergency aid, with $1m going to aid agencies to help provide shelter, water purification and food.

     

    Thailand: Transport plane loaded with food and medicine sent to Yangon.

     

    (All figures in US$)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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