Saturday, May 17, 2008



YANGON, MYANMAR - GRAPHIC videos showing corpses of cyclone victims and the ruins of villages are being snapped up on the streets of Myanmar, giving people here their first glimpse of the storm's true toll.

Myanmar's military regime tightly controls all the country's media, so outside of the hardest-hit regions of the Irrawaddy Delta, many people inside the country have only seen official propaganda about the clean-up effort.

Now vendors say people are buying videos that show the true devastation caused by the storm that left 71,000 dead or missing.

'Get Nargis here for 500 kyats!' one vendor shouts in downtown Yangon, the main city and former capital.

Having glimpsed the 50-cent video himself, he says he couldn't bear to watch the entire thing.

'We started selling these yesterday. Some of the videos are sold out. But I couldn't finish watching this. I felt so sorry for the victims, and it was so scary,' he said.

The videos show the ruins of hard-hit townships like Pyinsalu, Labutta and Bogalay at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River, in the delta region that suffered most of the casualties.

Hundreds of corpses float in rivers, and entire towns are submerged by the sea in a video taken from a helicopter dated May 5 - three days after the storm first hit.

Some senior military officers and soldiers are shown delivering food and water to desperate villagers.

Another video shows thousands of victims crammed into a Buddhist pagoda in Labutta asking for food.

'My child and I, we are the only two people left,' one crying woman says on the video.

'The rest of our family died. How can I comfort myself?' -- AFP

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