At least 27 dead after cyclone pounds Myanmar

Atleast 27 people were killed and 15 are missing after a powerful cyclone struck western Myanmar.

Updated: Oct 25, 2010, 22:35 PM IST

Yangon: Atleast 27 people were killed and 15 are missing after a powerful cyclone struck western Myanmar, leaving a trail of destruction in its path, official media reported late Monday.

Cyclone Giri destroyed 2,800 homes, dozens of government buildings and two bridges, according to state radio in the army-ruled country.

The storm slammed into the coastal state of Rakhine on Friday with winds of up to 193 kilometres (119 miles) per hour.

Official media had previously remained tight-lipped about the number of casualties.

Several government ministers inspected damage to buildings and houses in the town of Kyaukpyu in Rakhine state on Sunday, according to a report in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a mouthpiece for the military government

They also distributed clothes, food, bottled water, construction materials and cash to victims at a makeshift camp, the report said.

The coastal town was badly hit, with the power cut off and the sea wall damaged. On Friday the meteorology office predicted sea levels could swell by as much as 3.7 metres (12 feet).

A Red Cross worker in Yangon estimated Saturday that about 70 percent of Kyaukpyu town was destroyed, with about 60,000 people in the district needing assistance.

Trees were reportedly toppled and power was cut to some areas.

After hitting the coast, the storm headed northeast through the centre of the country, losing strength along the way.

Myanmar is frequently hit by tropical storms and in 2008 was battered by Cyclone Nargis, which left 138,000 people dead or missing, mostly in the southwest delta region.

Nargis unleashed winds of 240 kilometres an hour and storm surges up to four metres high, sweeping away thousands of homes, flooding rice fields with salt water and ravaging schools and hospitals.

Myanmar`s military government faced international criticism for its response to the disaster. It was accused of blocking emergency aid and initially refusing to grant access to humanitarian workers and supplies.

In a separate incident Sunday, at least 14 people were killed and about 100 more injured after a fire broke out at an oil pipeline in central Myanmar, a government official.

The blaze appeared to have been ignited accidentally by local villagers who were collecting oil leaking from the pipeline near Pakokku town in the Magway region.

Myanmar is due to hold its first election in 20 years on November 7 but Western nations have said the vote will not be credible unless detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition figures are freed.

Bureau Report