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Bloggers describe 'sad moment' for Myanmar

  • Story Highlights
  • Web sites deliver eyewitness reports from inside devastated country
  • One blogger blames corruption in Myanmar society for storm's havoc
  • Opposition site says military government fails to help victims, skews news
  • Buddhist monks trying to feed, house displaced people, witnesses say
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By Jim Kavanagh
CNN
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(CNN) -- Eyewitness reports on the devastation and suffering left in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar trickled out Wednesday by way of Web sites and blogs.

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Power lines are down in Yangon after the cyclone struck Myanmar in a photo from iReport contributor Erik Hetrick.

"This is indeed a very sad moment for all Myanmar people," blogger Myat Thura wrote from neighboring Thailand.

More than 22,000 people have died, according to estimates from Myanmar's state-run media. Another 40,000 are believed to be missing, according to the estimates, and 1 million have been left homeless since the storm hit last weekend in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

"They are my people and it hurts me so much. Why our Burmese people have to suffer such kind of hardship? Why us?" Myat Thura wrote.

Another blogger, who calls herself May Burma, blamed the storm's devastation on corruption and dissipation in Myanmar society.

"Burmese used to say that our country never had natural disaster since we have our religion, culture and so many arhats [spiritual practitioners], pure monks and sayadaws [senior monks]. This is not the case anymore lately," she wrote.

A blogger called Rule of Lords claimed to translate reports from Thai television station Yoma 3 into English. Video Watch a firsthand report from a devastated village »

According to Rule of Lords, the station quoted eyewitnesses who said refugees were pouring into Laputta, even though the storm flattened the city of 50,000.

"There was water, rain and wind," an eyewitness told Yoma 3, Rule of Lords related. "The shore road was submerged and on the high ground the water was at knee level. The whole town was under water. There were heavy waves all over, and water snakes. Some died from the snakes.

"There has been no help. No one has anywhere to stay. No work, there's nothing. We're just sticking together at the monastery," the witness told the station, according to Rule of Lords.
iReport.com: Watch video of a baby being carried through the storm

The Irrawaddy, an opposition news Web site, quoted a doctor who said Buddhist monks were helping victims as much as they could.

"Monks and young people in each town collected money and rice after the storm, and they cooked rice soup for the survivors," the physician said, Irrawaddy reported.

In one monastery in the township of Bogalay, about 600 people waited for aid, said CNN correspondent Dan Rivers, who is in the devastated region. The monks there said they had enough food for two days and no prospects of getting more.

Meanwhile, Myanmar military authorities were attempting to prevent the monks from getting involved in relief efforts, Irrawaddy said. Learn more about Myanmar »

"Burmese military officials ordered monks not to use monasteries as safe houses for survivors and, according to journalists in Rangoon, the Ministry of Information ordered news agencies not to publish photographs of Buddhist monks aiding survivors, working in the streets or rebuilding homes," the Web site alleged.

Rangoon is the former name of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city and its economic center.

"The newspapers said the ruling generals and troops encouraged and aided survivors," a dentist told Irrawaddy on Wednesday. "But this has quickly become a standing joke among people in Rangoon. We now say soldiers can only be seen in newspapers -- nowhere else.

"My house was destroyed," he added. "But I don't see any officials coming to visit me."

A news program on state television showed video of soldiers in helicopters delivering bags of rice and containers of water to people, but it was unclear where in Myanmar the footage was shot, CNN's Rivers reported. Map »

In the southern delta region, the soldiers who were seen were clearing downed trees, not delivering aid, Rivers said.

The Irrawaddy site alleged local officials in Yangon were charging storm victims for tin-roofing material. It said officials' relatives were buying up the material and reselling it at a 600 percent markup.

"Toilets are overflowing," Laputta resident Aye Kyu said, according to Irrawaddy. "If aid does not arrive soon, people will starve to death. I beg both the government and international agencies to get emergency aid to Laputta as soon as possible."

A blogger named Jotman noted the storm devastated Myanmar's main rice-growing region.

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"This disaster could not have come at a worse time for Burma and the world; the effects of Cyclone Nargis may be felt far beyond the shores of Burma," Jotman wrote. "Because if the Burmese people are to be fed, the food may have to come from somewhere else.

"It is conceivable that the cyclone will drive up rice and food prices worldwide, and exacerbate global shortages."

CNN's Dan Rivers contributed to this report.

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