Yangon - A cyclone that struck Myanmar's western coast late last week damaged hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of residents but the government has given no official estimate of damages or casualties, residents and aid agencies said on Monday.
Cyclone Giri arrived from the Bay of Bengal on Friday evening with winds of up to 177km/h, lashing several areas of western Rakhine state including Myebon, Pauktaw, Myanaung, Ponnagyu and Kyaukphyu. The coastal areas are populated by poor families living mostly in bamboo huts.
Three temporary camps have been set up in Kyaukphyu for more than 5 000 people by the Myanmar Red Cross and the Social Welfare Ministry, said Andrew Kirkwood, the resident representative of aid group Save the Children.
The government has not yet reported the damage or casualties from the category 4 cyclone. State-run newspapers did not mention the cyclone aftermath though they reported the visit of the country's social welfare minister to Kyaukphyu.
Kirkwood cited reports that “70 percent of the buildings in Kayukphyu had their roofs blown off and Kyaukphyu hospital was badly damaged”.
A resident from Kyaukphyu, Daw Chit Chit, who was contacted by phone, said that many homes had their roofs blown off and that many areas remained flooded. She said communications were cut over the weekend had been restored.
On Kyunthaya island, located between Myebone and Kyaukphyu, there were seven houses left standing from an original community of 622 houses, Kirkwood said. Myebone, which is north of Kyaukphyu, was also badly damaged and the local aid groups were on their way, he said.
Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar in May 2008 and killed 130 000 people and destroyed 800 000 buildings, mostly on the southern tip of Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta. The ruling military junta was widely criticised for what were called inadequate preparations and initial response to that disaster. - Sapa-AP