An outbreak of dysentery has compounded the crisis in western Burma’s Arakan state where some 100 people were killed by a cyclone 10 days ago.
More than 200 people have fallen ill and four are since reported to have died in the towns of Kyaukphyu, Minbya and Myebon, where swathes of property were flattened by the cyclone.
Dr Aye Maung, chairman of Rakhine (Arakan) Nationalities Development Party, said the dysentery outbreak was caused by a lack of clean drinking water.
Aid has arrived in the isolated coastal region, but locals there say more is needed. Aye Win, spokesperson for the UN Information Centre in Rangoon, told DVB that communication with affected areas was difficult, with the Arakan region harder to access than the country’s southern Irrawaddy delta, which was hit by the devastating cyclone Nargis in May 2008.
One international aid group working in the region said that the Burmese government had allowed staff to move relatively freely in comparison to the aftermath of cyclone Nargis, when it drew international condemnation for initially refusing offers of foreign assistance.
Local relief groups, such Mingalar Myanmar and Karuna Foundation, have been active in the worst-hit areas, Dr Aye Maung said.
According to the UN, more than 170,000 were affected by cyclone Giri, which slammed into Burma’s western coastline on 22 October. Around 70,000 were made homeless.
The Indo-Asian News Service said that 6,231 houses, eight monasteries, 19 schools and 77 government offices as well as 80 vessels and two bridges were destroyed.