International aid began to trickle into Myanmar yesterday, but the stricken Irrawaddy Delta, the country’s rice bowl where 22,000 people perished and twice as many are missing, remained cut off from the world.
In Yangon, government soldiers were out on the streets in large numbers for the first time since cyclone Nargis hit over the weekend, helping to clear away rubble. Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns wielded axes and long knives to remove ancient, fallen trees that were once the city’s pride.
However, coastal areas of the delta worst hit by the high winds and tidal surges were out of reach for aid workers, isolated by flooding and road damage.
No Canadians are reported among the dead and injured. A Foreign Affairs Department spokesman in Ottawa said consular officials were attempting to contact all 57 Canadians known to be in Myanmar. Most were registered as being in the Yangon area.
The UN’s World Food Program said international aid began to flow, with more than 700 tonnes of food getting through to the first of nearly one million people left homeless by the cyclone. “Our biggest fear is that the aftermath could be more lethal than the storm itself,” said Caryl Stern, who heads the UN Children’s Fund in the United States.
Ottawa has set aside up to $2 million to provide urgent relief.