Cyclone kills 4 in Myanmar
Myanmar's military government declared disaster areas in five states on Sunday after a large tropical cyclone pounded the Irrawaddy delta region and killed at least four people in Yangon, state newspapers said, according to Reuters.
Cyclone Nargis, which was packing 190 km (120 miles) per hour winds when it hit on Saturday, left the streets of the former Burma's main city littered with debris from fallen trees and battered buildings.
Many roofs had been ripped off even sturdy buildings, suggesting damage would be severe in the shanty towns that sit on the outskirts of the sprawling river delta city of 5 million people.
"I have never seen anything like it," one retired government worker told Reuters. "It reminded me of when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States."
Although the sun was shining by Sunday morning, the former capital was without power and water.
An Electricity Board official said it was impossible to know when services -- hit-and-miss at the best of times in one of Asia's poorest countries -- would be restored.
"It is very hard to say when we can resume supply. We still have to clear the mess," the official, who did not want to be named, said.
In some towns in the Irrawaddy delta, where the massive cyclone landed on Friday night having gathered steam in the tropical waters of the Bay of Bengal, more than half of buildings had been damaged or collapsed, official newspapers said.
The death toll -- so far just four people in Yangon -- is expected to climb as authorities slowly make contact with outlying towns and villages along the coast, where weather forecasters had predicted a storm surge of up to 12 feet (3.5 m).
Official media said four vessels sank in Yangon harbour.
It remains to be seen what impact the storm will have on a referendum on an army-drafted constitution scheduled for May 10.
The charter is part of a "roadmap to democracy" meant to culminate in multiparty elections in 2010 and end nearly five decades of military rule. Critics say it gives the army too much control.
Naypyidaw, the generals' new capital, is 240 miles (390 km) north of Yangon.
An official at Yangon International Airport said all incoming flights had been diverted to the second city of Mandalay, in the middle of the southeast Asian nation, and all departures from Yangon had been cancelled.
Thai Airways in Bangkok said they would decide at 0700 GMT whether to resume flights.
Nargis is now moving northeast into northern Thailand, where it has already caused heavy rain and triggered storm warnings.