Death toll rises in both Myanmar and China disasters

China quake death toll could reach 50,000

LUOSHUI TOWN, China, May 16 ─ Troops dug burial pits in this quake-shattered town and black smoke poured from crematorium chimneys elsewhere in central China as priorities began shifting yesterday from the hunt for survivors to dealing with the dead. Officials said the final toll could more than double to 50,000.

The emergency headquarters of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said the confirmed death toll had reached 19,509 ─ up more than 4,500 from the day before. The council said deaths could rise to 50,000, state media reported.

The provincial government said more than 12,300 remained buried and another 102,100 were injured in Sichuan, where the quake was centred.

Experts said hope was quickly fading for anyone still caught in the wreckage of homes, schools, offices and factories that collapsed in the magnitude-7.9 quake, the most powerful in three decades in quake-prone China.

Full article here.

After the earthquake in China, the death toll has been rising steadily. But the help that reaches out to the victims has also been quite steady.

The same cannot be said about the cyclone in Myanmar though

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

YANGON, May 15 — The Red Cross estimated yesterday that the cyclone death toll in Myanmar could be as high as 128,000 – a much higher figure than the government tally. The UN warned a second wave of deaths will follow unless the military regime lets in more aid quickly.

The grim forecast came as heavy rains drenched the devastated Irrawaddy River delta, disrupting aid operations already struggling to reach up to 2.5 million people in urgent need of food, water and shelter.

“Another couple of days exposed to those conditions can only lead to worsening health conditions and compound the stress people are living in,” said Shantha Bloemen, a spokeswoman for Unicef.

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

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, however, said its estimate put the number of dead between 68,833 and 127,990. The Geneva-based body said the range came from a compilation based on other estimates from 22 different organisations, including the Myanmar Red Cross Society, and on media reports.

The Red Cross estimated the number of people needing help after cyclone surged over the low-lying delta on May 3 at between 1.64 million and 2.51 million.

But the junta still refused to accept help from foreign aid experts, who have vast experience in handling humanitarian crises.

It insisted Myanmar can handle the disaster on its own – a stance that appeared to stem not from the isolationist regime’s ability but from its deep suspicion of most foreigners, who have frequently criticised its human rights abuses and crackdowns on democracy activists.

Full article here.

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This piece of news is depressing. How can the junta refuse to accept help? It’s a few million people of Myanmar that need help.

I don’t really want to criticise them, because I don’t know enough to make any intelligent statements. But whatever differences and suspicions they have towards foreigners, they simply have to put those aside during this time of distress. Help the people first.



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