Cyclone kills 350 in Burma
At least 350 people died in Burma during a powerful cyclone that destroyed thousands of homes, USA Today reported Sunday.
International aid is desperately needed, but many worry that the country's leaders, who tend to be secretive and xenophobic, will be reluctant to ask for help.
An election is scheduled for May 10. How the junta, the ruling party in Burma, reacts to the storm could spell the end of their grasp on power. Voters already blame the regime for "ruining democracy and squashing democracy," USA Today said.
The military-run television station reported that Tropical Cyclone Nargis, which packed winds of up to 120 m.p.h, killed at least 351 people and that at least 75 percent of the buildings in the country's Irawaddy region had collapsed.
The United Nations tried to send in teams on Sunday, but were unable to enter the country because of roads clogged with debris.
"The Burmese are saying they have never seen anything like this, ever," Shari Villarosa, an American diplomat in Burma, told The Associated Press. "Trees are down. Electricity lines are down. Our Burmese staff have lost their roofs. There is major devastation throughout the city."
The storm has already had an effect on the nation's economy. The price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped from $2.50 to $10 on the black market and many other goods have tripled in price.