Page last updated at 20:13 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 21:13 UK

Burmese anger over junta's 'inadequacy'

By a BBC reporter in southern Burma

Villages stand in front of their destroyed houses in Twantay, southern Burma. Photo: 9 May 2008
Thousands of people in the area have received no aid

You do not have to travel too far out of Rangoon to smell the stench of death.

Rotting animals lie bloated in the paddy fields, but there are human corpses here too, lying under the wreckage of trees and buildings flattened by last Saturday's storm.

In those areas closest to the capital there are also signs that a little aid is getting through: a few Burmese army vehicles could be seen distributing food on Friday.

Locals said the military had arrived a day earlier to help clear the bodies away.

We saw a lone helicopter in the sky overhead, but the aid is meagre, sporadic and completely inadequate for the scale of this disaster.


Thousands of people in this area have received nothing. On one stretch of road dozens of families sat next to makeshift shelters.

Children take shelter at a monastery at Bogalay, southern Burma. Photo: 9 May 2008
Many people have fled to safety, abandoning all their belongings

One man told how he had escaped to higher ground with his family as the waters started to rise. He had survived, but lost all his belongings.

He had little to start with, now he has lost everything. No clothes left but the ones on his back, no food other than the rice he could carry that night, scooped up into the bowl of his hat.

He had had something to eat on Friday, and would maybe again tomorrow. Next week depends on the Burmese government.

All across this area families were desperately trying to dry out their sacks of rice drenched by the flood, even spreading the grains across the road to catch the Sun's rays.

If not enough rice is salvaged, even the better off here will struggle without help.

Already this storm promises long-term misery for a country that goes hungry, even without a cyclone.

'Frustration turning to anger'

In the town of Kungyangon, things did seem a little better.

People clean their belongings along a street in Kungyangon, near Rangoon. Photo: 8 May 2008
There are fears that diseases may be spreading in the storm-hit areas

The military had arrived and the Red Cross hospital was open again.

But a few miles away there was nothing to mitigate this calamity.

"Children dead! Old men dead! Old woman dead! No food!" one man shouted. But no assistance had arrived at all.

There was no doubt who he blamed, saying "the government" was "no good". He then made a sign of a gun, as if to shoot the people in the government responsible.

In a country as repressive as Burma, that is an extraordinary act of defiance against the generals presiding over this disaster.

It is a sign of the frustration felt here, and across much of southern Burma at how inadequate the relief operation has been.

It is frustration that is turning to anger - even though the majority are unaware that just over an hour's flight away - in Bangkok - food, medicine, shelter and expertise lie waiting on the region's airfields, ready to arrive, but prevented from coming by Burma's leaders.

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