- "Utter war zone," one Yangon-based diplomat said in an email to Reuters in Bangkok. "Trees across all streets. Utility poles down. Hospitals devastated. Clean water scarce."
- "I have never seen anything like it," one retired government worker told Reuters. "It reminded me of when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States."
- "It was a direct hit on a major city," said Terje Skavdal, regional head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
The death toll from a tropical cyclone that tore through Yangon and Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta rose to 351 on Sunday, a government official said, citing state media reports in the remote capital, Naypyidaw.Comment: The people of Rangoon were already living on the edge. Burma is isolated. Now what will the regime do? This is a major catastrophe. An AFP report filed 7 hours raises more questions:
State television, which was still off air in Yangon after the storm, said 20,000 homes had been destroyed on the island of Haingyi in the Andaman Sea, the first part of the country to be hit by Cyclone Nagris, the official said.
As many as 90,000 people were reported to have been left homeless on the island, he added.
"A tea shop owner told me that many people in a Yangon suburb need urgent help for food and accommodation," one food vendor said. "Some children are not even wearing clothes."
Myanmar's infrastructure has been run into the ground by decades of mismanagement by the military, which has ruled since 1962.
It was not immediately known whether damage from the storm would affect next Saturday's referendum on a new constitution, which the ruling junta says will pave the way for democratic elections in 2010.