Monday, April 20, 2009

Cyclone Bijli misses Myanmar

Yangon - Cyclone Bijli was downgraded to a storm when it reached western Myanmar this weekend, causing heavy rains but no damages, state media reported Sunday.

Myanmar's Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) has been issuing cyclone warnings on state-run radio, television and newspapers since April 14, when Bijli started in the Bay on Bengal and was forecast to be heading to the Rhakine State over the weekend.

The country's military regime was widely faulted last year for failing to provide adequate warnings for Cyclone Nargis, which slammed into the Irrawaddy Delta and Yangon on May 2-3, leaving 140,000 dead or missing.

The junta was further faulted for initially hampering an international relief operation for the devastated region in the aftermath of Nargis, deemed Myanmar's worst natural disaster in recent history.

Aid and the entry of relief workers were eventually speeded up by the setting up of a joint operation between the United Nations, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat and the government by the end of May, 2008, which has now been hailed as a modest success story for the notoriously xenophobic junta.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962.

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