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Rains Spell Nightmare Scenario In Myanmar While New Cyclone Forms

Another cyclone could be forming over Myanmar: UNBThe United Nations warned Wednesday that another cyclone could be forming over Myanmar, where up to two million people are still awaiting food and water after Cyclone Nargis. Amanda Pitt, spokeswoman for the UN's disaster response arm, said that a US Defence Department monitoring centre -- the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) -- was reporting the possibility of another heavy storm over the country. "I understand there are torrential rains, and that a cyclone might be forming," she told a press conference in Bangkok. She stressed, however, that the information did not mean a fresh cyclone would indeed hit the devastated country. The JTWC, based in Hawaii, said on its website that a tropical storm was forming near Myanmar's main city of Yangon. "The potential for the development of a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is good with the only limitation being temporary land interaction," it said. Up to 62,000 people are dead or missing after Cyclone Nargis slammed into the southwest delta area on May 2 and 3, and aid workers are struggling to reach survivors with urgently needed food, water and shelter. Pitt said that even the coming monsoon rains would hamper aid efforts. "It's terrible. This is always another worry," she said.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) May 14, 2008
Heavy rains forecast to hit Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta over the coming days represent a nightmare scenario for the cyclone-stricken country, the United Nations and Red Cross warned on Wednesday.

"The arrival of the rains will only exacerbate an already dramatic situation in the flooded areas, both for survivors and for aid personnel," said Elisabeth Byrs of the UN's humanitarian affairs office in Geneva.

"The rains threaten to make life even tougher for those without shelter, who are trying to rebuild bamboo huts while being sapped of all strength already," she added.

"With soil already saturated, with large areas already flooded and with communities already pushed to their capacities, this rain could represent the worst scenario imaginable," said Peter Rees, head of operations support with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva.

The IFRC cited forecasts by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University in New York that 12 centimetres (4.7 inches) of rain are set to fall on the area worst affected by the May 2 cyclone over the next six days.

Soil is so saturated in the affected areas that there is a "real risk" of increased and more severe flooding, which could cause people to flee yet again for new dry land and further hamper already strained relief efforts, Rees said.

"We could also see more unsafe water being forced out of sanitation facilities, which obviously increases the already very real risk of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery," added Uli Jaspers, head of the IFRC's water and sanitation unit.

The World Meteorological Organisation said earlier Wednesday that substantial amounts of rainfall are forecast for the southwest part of Myanmar and winds are expected to strengthen as individual thunderstorms hit.

However, the WMO said there were no signs of another cyclone forming over Myanmar.

According to United Nations estimates, up to two million people are still critically in need of clean water, food rations, emergency medical care and shelter, more than a week after Cyclone Nargis swept away entire villages leaving at least 62,000 people dead or missing.

British minister Douglas Alexander said reports from agencies on the ground indicated the number of dead and missing could rise above 200,000.

A desperate situation was being aggravated "rapidly" and "tragically," Alexander said, due to the "insufficient reaction of the (Myanmar) regime."

Despite the critical situation, Myanmar's military rulers on Wednesday tightened access to the cyclone disaster zone, the UN said, turning back foreigners and ignoring pleas to accept the outside experts who could save countless lives before time runs out.

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PLA rides to the rescue again in China quake
Beijing (AFP) May 14, 2008
The People's Liberation Army dropped food and paratroopers into quake-shattered areas of China on Wednesday, the latest in a long history of disaster-relief missions by the world's largest armed force.







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