257. The Cyclone in Myanmar

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The first report was that hundreds in the delta had died. But by the third day, estimates were that 40,000 people could be dead or missing, and perhaps one million might be left homeless. Bodies were floating in rivers that were mixed with ocean water. There was little fresh water and little food. For unknown reasons, the government was refusing most offers of international aid.

The cyclone had hit the capital of Myanmar with winds of 120 mph. It was as powerful as Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 destroyed much of New Orleans. Katrina killed 1,800 people and left about 100,000 people homeless.

Meteorologists watched the cyclone closely and warned the Myanmar government about it two days before the cyclone hit the country. But the Myanmar government failed to warn citizens to prepare for the dangerous storm.

"We were in our hotel," said an American tourist who was visiting the capital with his wife. "We could see the weather changing, but the locals didn't seem to be worried. When the wind smashed the windows in our hotel room, we started worrying. The wind blew the rain and tree branches and other debris into our room. We went into the bathroom and got into the tub. We didn't feel safe in the bathroom, but where could we go? The wind howled and things banged around forever. We thought we were going to die for sure. When the storm finally passed, we looked outside. We couldn't believe the destruction. Mostly all we could see was just water." There was no telling when power would be restored or when roads would be usable. The Myanmar government was doing nothing to help matters. "That's because they prefer that we all die," said an angry survivor.


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