Friday, May 9, 2008

100,000 death toll in Myanmar cyclone disaster ?

Latest Update 1

The United States has said the death toll could be around 100,000, but the regime on Thursday increased its official death toll by 17. It gave figures of 22,997 dead, 1,430 injured and 42,119 missing.

A senior United Nations aid official, speaking in Bangkok, was able to give a snapshot of the aftermath of Nargis, calling it "a major, major disaster".

"Basically the entire lower delta region is under water. Teams are talking about bodies floating around in the water.There was a 12ft tidal surge. The people just drowned."

The authorities were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the destruction and the challenge of providing food and emergency supplies for the hundreds of thousands of people in need.

Huge trees had crushed some houses. Others appear to have fallen in on themselves because of the force of the storm.

By the time the last of the daylight was slipping from the sky, it seemed as though every other home we were passing had been flattened.

For mile after mile through the vast flat expanse of the Irrawaddy Delta, the evidence of the destructive power of Cyclone Nargis lay on either side of the rutted road; uprooted trees, downed pylons, entire villages of flimsy, feeble homes blown flat.

To the south and west of here, a 120mph fury had lifted a wall of water 12ft tall from the Andaman Sea on Friday night and driven it in a deadly surge across much of the delta.

The great expanse of paddies that once made this part of Burma the most productive rice-growing region in the world is now a bowl of slowly draining salt water, a catastrophe that will continue to be felt after the immediate aftermath clears.

Latest Update 2

Oil price vaults to record 125.98 dollars

Prices have rocketed to fresh records every day this week on the back of unrest in key producer Nigeria, other ongoing supply worries and the weak dollar which stimulates demand.

The price of oil has soared by 25 percent since the start of 2008 and has doubled since the same stage last year -- when it stood at about 62 dollars.

Oil vaulted above the psychological 100-dollar mark last January and has since jumped above 110 and 120 dollars, as the market was also energised by soaring demand from Asian powerhouse economies China and India.

Prices continued to bolt higher on Thursday after the OPEC cartel insisted the market was well-supplied and driven by speculators.

OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri said Thursday that there was no shortage of crude oil, brushing aside US calls for higher output to dampen runaway prices.