May 23, 2008 — The U.N. World Health Organization says the official toll of dead and missing from Tropical Cyclone Nargis now exceeds 132,000, with more than 19,000 injured. The U.N. estimates that 2.4 million people in Myanmar/Burma have been affected by the storm.
Myanmar's junta also agreed on Friday to admit aid workers "regardless of nationalities" to the hardest-hit Irrawaddy Delta, a breakthrough for delivering help to cyclone survivors, U.N. officials said.
An Asia Society contact, reporting from one of the few available Internet connections in Yangon on Wednesday, May 7, wrote: "Yangon is like a post-war city. No water, no electricity. Food prices are three times [higher].... The price of gas [is up] two times. People need a lot of things, but [the] government has no proper plan to support [us]."
Experts have commented on how the disaster may affect the military junta's closed-door rule. "This is a huge test for the military junta and indeed, it could transform the political landscape," said Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Tion Kwa. "But the immediate concern for everyone will be saving lives and rebuilding homes, getting villages back in order and restarting the rural economy."
Listen to Tio Kwa's analysis:
Reported by Stephanie Valera, Asia Society Online