FACTBOX-Key facts about Cyclone Nargis

Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:24am EDT

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April 30 (Reuters) - Following are some facts about Cyclone Nargis which battered Myanmar last year.

THE CYCLONE

-- Cyclone Nargis swept across the Irrawaddy Delta and southern Yangon, the former capital, on the evening of May 2, 2008 with winds of 240 kph (150 mph)

DEATH AND DAMAGE

-- Nearly 140,000 people died and 2.4 million were severely affected.

-- The cyclone was the worst to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people died in Bangladesh. It was the worst natural disaster to hit Asia since the 2004 tsunami' that killed at least 232,000 people.

-- Most of those who died were killed by a 3.5 metre wall of water that hit the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta. They included 10,000 who perished in one town, Bogalay, southwest of Yangon.

-- A joint assessment carried out by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) comprising ASEAN, the United Nations and Myanmar's government estimated the damage at $4 billion. Some 42 percent of food stocks were destroyed.

-- The cyclone flooded paddy fields with sea water, damaged irrigation systems and destroyed seed supplies. The FAO said in June that of 1.3 million ha (3.2 million acres) of rice fields in the cyclone-hit areas, 60 percent was affected by the storm.

-- Nargis killed around 200,000 farm animals, including 120,000 used by farmers to plough their fields.

IRRAWADDY DELTA

-- Damage was most severe in the Irrawaddy Delta, an area covering some 23,500 square kilometres, known as the country's rice bowl and home to about 7.35 million people.

-- The cyclone struck as paddy farmers were at the last stage of harvesting the "dry season" crop, which accounts for about 25 percent of annual production in the affected area.

OFFICIAL RESPONSE

-- After three weeks and strong international criticism, the ruling junta finally agreed to let aid workers in.

-- The junta accepted relief flights into Yangon from many countries, including the United States. But it rejected offers of French and American ships delivering aid.

-- The government allowed the World Food Programme to airlift supplies into the delta and let in medical teams from neighbours in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

-- Despite the cyclone, the junta went ahead with a referendum on May 10 on a new constitution, part of its much-criticised "roadmap to democracy" and said 92 percent voted in favour. The referendum was postponed by a fortnight in areas hit by the cyclone.

AID ONE YEAR AFTER:

-- Food aid was provided to more than 1 million people. One year after the cyclone, the WFP is still providing food to cyclone survivors.

-- Less than 10 percent of small animals and poultry essential for many landless farmers has been replaced.

-- The U.N.'s appeal for $477 million closed one year later with only 66 percent funding ($315 million). Agriculture is the least-funded, with a shortfall of $42 million.

-- Only 17,000 out of 375,000 destroyed houses have been rebuilt. Aid groups estimate at least 500,000 survivors, including 200,000 children, are living in makeshift shelters, primarily due to a lack of funding.

-- In February, the TCG said recovery would take three years and cost $700 million.

Sources: Reuters; Reuters AlertNet; WFP, here; Oxfam; (Writing by Jijo Jacob; Additional reporting by Thin Lei Win in Bangkok; Editing by Bill Tarrant)




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