Effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on Burma

Official reports from the government of Myanmar (Burma) cite a death toll of 56 due to the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on 26 December 2004. Independent media reports 90 people killed [http://www.irrawaddy.org/default.asp] , with estimates extending to 600 [http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=2255] [http://www.kvia.com/Global/story.asp?S=2760851] .

Although loss of life and property in Myanmar is suspected to be higher than official reports suggest, loss of life is not as high as in neighbouring Thailand due to various factors, most significantly the numerous islands off the coast of Myanmar which served to dissipate the force of the tsunami, a rocky shoreline, and the position of the coastline. [http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/01/05/tsunami.myanmar/index.html]

A Yangon-based representative from the United Nations states, "Conjecture fuelled by the experiences in neighbouring countries created a major and dangerous disconnect with reality" [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/05/international/worldspecial4/05cnd-myan.html] . This assessment has also been corroborated by satellite photographs according to Colin Powell [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11852812%255E1702,00.html] .

Also contributing to Myanmar's apparent lack of devastation is the fact that it is less developed than neighboring Thailand; international disapproval of the Burmese military regime has prevented the country from building a successful tourism industry.

30,000 citizens of Myanmar are estimated to be in need of shelter, food and water [http://www.examiner.ie/pport/web/world/Full_Story/did-sg3nE1qhdzaJ2sg7OWirIStPSk.asp] .788 buildings have been reported damaged and destroyed.

An NGO estimates 2,500 citizens of Myanmar based in Phang Nga Province, Thailand during the event have been killed, and 7,000 Burmese are still unaccounted for. [http://www.abc.net.au/ra/news/stories/s1282946.htm] Many of these missing are, however, not presumed to be dead. Many refugees have fled to Thailand's interior after the destruction, or have been deported or chased back into the hills that divide the countries by Thai authorities. [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/BKK286589.htm]

Myanmar does not allow journalists into the country and maintains a strong hold on information disseminated in its state-run newspapers. This policy has created a difficult environment to gauge the lives affect by the tsunami. [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N04458697.htm]


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