Cyclone Savages Burma; at Least 351 Dead

Winds reach 120 mph, destroying thousands of buildings
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 4, 2008 7:28 AM CDT
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, an electric pole is broken by strong wind at a street in Rangoon Saturday.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Yunfei)
camera-icon View 5 more images

(Newser) – A tropical cyclone has wreaked havoc in Burma, killing at least 351 and destroying tens of thousands of buildings, the BBC reports. Cyclone Nargis brought 120 mph winds to the country, knocking down 75% of buildings in one town and cutting off power, water, and phone lines in the largest city, Rangoon. The storm is now headed toward Thailand, but seems to have quieted somewhat.

“Utter war zone,” a diplomat in Rangoon tells Reuters. “Trees across all streets. Hospitals devastated. Clean water scarce.” In the delta region of Irrawaddy, more than 20,000 houses fell. “I have never seen anything like it,” a former official said. “It reminded me of when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States.” The sun has returned, but “it will take a few days before we get an overview of the damage,” says a UN rep.