The powerful cyclone that devastated Myanmar has put the isolated country in crisis. Food and essential supplies have been scarce because a massive international aid effort has been delayed by the military junta that rules the country. AP reports:
Hungry crowds of survivors stormed the few shops that opened in Myanmar's stricken Irrawaddy delta, where food and international aid has been scarce since a devastating cyclone killed more than 22,000 people, the U.N. said Wednesday...
..."Basically the entire lower delta region is under water," said Richard Horsey, Bangkok-based spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid.
"Teams are talking about bodies floating around in the water," he said. This is "a major, major disaster we're dealing with..."
...But a massive international aid effort was being kept on hold by Myanmar's military rulers. Internal U.N. documents obtained by The Associated Press showed growing frustrations at foot-dragging by the junta, which has kept the impoverished nation isolated for five decades to maintain its iron-fisted control.
While some aid is entering the country, the damage done by the cyclone is making it difficult to distribute it in many areas:
Local aid workers started distributing water purification tablets, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting and basic medical supplies. But heavily flooded areas were accessible only by boat, with helicopters unable to deliver relief supplies there, Horsey said.
ABC News has more on just how dire the situation is for Myanmar's population:
They are sleeping on the road, on railroad tracks, on bridges. If they can, they sleep above the water line below which there is nothing left, the line that marks where their lives were swept away.
They stare into television cameras blankly, sitting on mud where their homes used to be. Or they stare from monasteries, the only buildings around with a roof, houses of worship that have become homes to hundreds.
They are the survivors, the millions of people who lived in the path of Cyclone Nargis, which destroyed much of Myanmar this weekend with 120 mph winds...
...The first pictures of the survivors' conditions show just how powerful this storm was and how long-lasting its effects will be. More than 25 million people lived in the cyclone's path and anywhere from 1 million to 2 million of them are now homeless, according to the United Nations. The Myanmar government says 22,000 people are dead and 40,000 are missing.