Green Country Has Ties To Myanmar

Wednesday, May 7th 2008, 6:23 pm
By: News On 6

The country of Myanmar, the old Burma, is trying to recover after this weekend's deadly cyclone. The U.S. Embassy in that country says the death toll could reach 100,000 people.

The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports the Burmese government lists the death toll at 22,000. But diplomats say the number of casualties is likely five times that.

Hundreds of people living in Green Country have ties to Burma and many of them are still struggling to get in touch with their loved ones.

When Vung Za Mann left Burma 10 years ago, most of her family stayed behind.

"In Yangon, the capitol of Burma, I have two sisters and my mother," said Mann whose mother is missing.

Mann says the footage of the storm leaves her in tears. The cyclone destroyed everything in its path along the Irrawaddy Delta. Yangoon is on the edge of the delta. More than 90% of the buildings there were destroyed.

"I think about it all the time. What they gonna eat? Do they have food to eat, or what they're going to do?" said Mann.

Mann has been unable to get in contact with her 86-year-old mom.

Suan Za Lian is one of about 200 Burmese citizens living in the area. They've all been trying desperately to reach family members. Most of them can't.

"No telephone. No electricity. Ninety-nine percent of them could not contact them," said Lian.

U.S. diplomats say 100,000 people were killed. And Lian says the problems are only beginning.

"There are so many snakes. Snakes bite people. And no drinking water. And no place to stay. They need temporary shelter and all that," said Lian.

And he says there's a major food shortage.

"You know, even a piece of egg. Cost 700 Jung, which means 70-75 cents," said Lian.  

Entire villages have been flattened. There's no food, no water. All Lian can do is write home and hope somebody writes back.

Many Burmese citizens in the Tulsa area refuse to recognize the name switch to Myanmar. They say the change was made unilaterally by a corrupt regime.

The U.S. has pledged more than $3 million and offered to send Navy ships to the region. Myanmar has not accepted America's aid package.