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Asian Disaster Updates — Why Now?
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Asian Disaster Updates

Better news for China as there’s a break in the weather. From the BBC – China scales up rescue operation

China is mobilising 30,000 extra troops and 90 helicopters to help with the rescue operation after Monday’s devastating earthquake.

The Chinese military plans to conduct large-scale airdrops of food, clothing and blankets over the worst-hit areas, including the districts of Beichuan and Wenchuan.

The helicopters are needed because many of the roads in the mountainous area near the epicentre have been badly damaged by the earthquake or have been covered by landslides.

The relief effort has also been hampered by bad weather, while an aftershock was reported in Yingxiu, a town close to the quake’s epicentre where more than three-quarters of the 10,000 residents perished.

Things can move into high gear now that aircraft can begin operating in the area. As soon as landing fields can be secured, much more aid and equipment can be moved into the area.

Alas, the problems in Burma are not improving and the monsoon rains are expected in the area this weekend to make matters even worse. The Burmese government has thrown away a window of opportunity to move in massive amounts of aid. The BBC again – UN chief to send envoy to Burma

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says he plans to send a senior official to urge Burma’s military leaders to open up to foreign aid.

Mr Ban said he wanted UN aid chief John Holmes to accompany a food aid delivery to the cyclone-hit nation.

He also proposed a conference of nations prepared to pledge assistance.

UN figures now suggest that as many as 2.5 million people have been severely affected by Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma 12 days ago.

The latest Burmese official figures put the number of dead at almost 38,500, with 27,838 more missing, but the Red Cross warned as many as 128,000 could be dead.

Mr Ban said he “regretted” the UN had spent more time arranging rather than delivering help.

During the monsoon, Rangoon gets about an inch of rain every day for months. Already flooded areas will remain flooded, and hundreds of thousand of people are without shelter of any kind. Flight operations will be intermittent at best, and the boats used for transportation have been destroyed.

As near as I can tell the government of Burma is hellbent on killing more of its people than the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia.