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Cablegate: Burma: Cyclone Nargis Sitrep No. 6

VZCZCXRO1466
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGO #0352/01 1330706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120706Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7550
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1166
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 4710
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8254
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5816
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3688
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1580
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 RANGOON 000352

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR USAID/OFDA, EAP/MLS, S/ES-O-CMS, DS/CC AND
DS/IP/EAP; PACOM FOR LTC JAMIE MCADEN; BANGKOK FOR RSO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: CYCLONE NARGIS SITREP NO. 6

REF: A. RANGOON 335
B. RANGOON 345 AND PREVIOUS

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) EMBASSY OPERATIONS: Embassy Rangoon continued to
operate on city power and had topped off its diesel fuel
tanks. On May 9, four EFMs departed post for Bangkok. On
May 13, six more EFM will depart post for Bangkok. Only one
new welfare and whereabouts inquiry came in overnight and
consular continued to try and resolve thirteen outstanding
cases. No criminal incidents involving American staff or
families were reported.

2. (SBU) C-130 FLIGHTS: Our C-130 flight is expected to
land at 1330 today. Admiral Keating, U/S Fore, and DAS
Marciel will accompany the relief shipment. Two additional
C-130 flights are scheduled for May 13; and we have requests
for five flights on Wednesday, May 14.

3. (SBU) SITUATION ON THE GROUND: We continued to receive
reports of high casualties in the delta and outskirts of
Rangoon. Food prices in Rangoon continued to climb, but fuel
prices dropped since last Friday. The Myanmar International
Terminals Thilawa port has resumed limited operations, and a
shipment of 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel arrived in Rangoon
on May 10. Electricity was restored to more Rangoon
neighborhoods although much of the city, and nearly all of
the delta, remained without power. There were no reports of
widespread looting or public disturbance in or around
Rangoon. Heavy rain is expected in Rangoon and parts of the
delta this week and is expected to exacerbate problems in the
cyclone-affected areas.

4. (SBU) REFERENDUM: The GOB went ahead with its
constitutional referendum on May 10 in all the areas that
were not critically affected by Cyclone Nargis. On an
MFA-sponsored diplomatic tour, two of our officers were able
to view polling in two cities, Myeik and Kyaingtone. They
observed some irregularities, but no violence or significant
disturbances. In the five vote counts our officers observed,
turnout was high as was the percentage of "yes" votes
recorded.

EMBASSY OPERATIONS
------------------

5. (SBU) STAFFING AND OPERATIONS: Embassy Rangoon continued
to operate on its normal 0800-1630 schedule subject to a
liberal leave policy.

6. (SBU) CONSULAR: Only one new welfare and whereabouts
inquiry came in overnight. Among the unregistered thirteen
Amcits who are "unaccounted for," Burmese Immigration
authorities have told us they have no record of four ever
entering Burma via Rangoon airport (note: land crossings by
tourists into Burma are very rare and require advance
approval by the GOB). Due to the sporadic
telecommunications, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has
not yet been able to locate the remaining Amcits through
their own internal monitoring system of foreigners. Consular
staff continued searches by cold calling hotels and guest
houses throughout Burma when the phones actually connect.
Given that we have received no reports of American
fatalities, we believe the unaccounted for tourists in
country are likely traveling in parts of upper Burma not
affected by the cyclone.

7. (SBU) AUTHORIZED DEPARTURE AND FLIGHTS: Post's Authorized
Departure Task Force met again on May 12. On May 9, four
eligible family members (EFMs) from one family departed
Rangoon for Bangkok at 1945 hrs on Thai Air flight 306. On
May 13, six more EFMs from three families will depart post
for Bangkok at 1945 hrs on Thai Air flight 306. Two EFMs
from one family who were scheduled to depart on May 13 have

RANGOON 00000352 002 OF 003


decided to remain at post for now. After the May 13 Thai
flight, all EFMs who have asked to depart post will have left.

8. (SBU) FUEL AND POWER: The Embassy continued to operate
on city power. We received two more truckloads of diesel
fuel on May 12. With that delivery, our diesel storage tanks
are full, and high octane tanks are at 60 percent. All
Embassy-owned vehicles have full gas tanks.

9. (SBU) WATER: The Embassy continued to have adequate water
supplies and purification capacity on hand.

10. (SBU) SECURITY: No criminal incidents involving
American staff were reported.

C-130 FLIGHT
------------

11. (SBU) Our C-130 flight is expected to land at 1330
today. Admiral Keating, U/S Fore, and DAS Marciel will
accompany the shipment. During the stopover, the three US
officials will meet with GOB officials in the VIP lounge of
the airport, but the Burmese have not yet confirmed which
officials will be present. The relief supplies will be
delivered directly to Burmese officials at the airport. We
have received permission for two more C-130 flights to
deliver relief supplies on May 13; and have requests for five
flights on Wednesday May 14. Today's flight will contain
24,000 pounds of relief supplies, including bottled water,
blankets, and mosquito netting.

12. (SBU) On May 11, the Charge met with the Chinese
Ambassador to discuss the possibility that Burmese
authorities may object to Admiral Keating's presence on the
C-130. After further discussions, the Burmese authorities
agreed not to object to the Admiral's visit.

SITUATION ON THE GROUND
-----------------------

13. (SBU) CASUALTIES AND DAMAGE: Residents of Kunchankone
township in southern Rangoon Division estimated as many as
10,000 residents of that area were dead or missing.
Witnesses reported numerous un-recovered corpses and a severe
shortage of food, fuel, clothing, and shelter. Despite the
poor conditions in the area, the regime announced that it had
begun to send residents of the township back to their
neighborhoods. Embassy contacts reported nine Burma Navy
vessels were sunk during the cyclone. Initial reports
indicated that many of the ships' crews were lost.

14. (SBU) RECOVERY AND RELIEF: The UN recommended flying
future aid shipments directly to the airport in Pathein,
Irrawaddy Division, due to its proximity to the affected
areas in the delta. We have communicated this to JTF in
Thailand.

15. (SBU) Embassy sources told us they continued to receive
reports of dissatisfaction within the military's ranks over
the pace and progress of the regime's relief efforts. Some
Embassy employees saw high energy bars and other items that
appeared to be relief supplies sold in several Rangoon stores
this weekend.

16. (SBU) WEATHER: Heavy rain is expected in Rangoon and
parts of the delta this week and is expected to exacerbate
problems in the affected areas.

17. (SBU) PORT: We have confirmed that the Myanmar
International Terminals Thilawa port has resumed limited
operations. On May 12, Embassy contacts reported that
vessels under 130 meters in length were arriving and
departing the port, and Embassy officers observed at least
two ships departing the port over the weekend. Econ sources
told us authorities have waived licensing requirements for
the import of limited amounts of fuel, food, and construction

RANGOON 00000352 003 OF 003


materials by certain Burmese businesses. Our sources also
confirmed that a shipment of 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel
arrived as scheduled in Rangoon on May 10. The fuel was
offloaded at the mouth of the Rangoon River on May 8 and
transported by barge to Rangoon (reftel A). A private
company took delivery and will sell the fuel at market rates.
Another shipment of fuel is expected this week, possibly as
early as May 13.

18. (SBU) FUEL: Fuel prices in Rangoon dropped slightly but
were still higher than pre-storm levels. On May 12, the
price of diesel was 6,000 kyat ($5.45) per gallon, down 25
percent from May 8. The price of gasoline was 5,000 kyat
($4.50) per gallon, down 28 percent from May 8. Before the
cyclone, diesel sold for 3,000 kyat per gallon and gasoline
cost 2,500 kyat per gallon.

19. (SBU) FOOD AND WATER: The price of food continued to
rise, particularly rice and meat. Fish consumption has
dropped due to fears of contamination. The price of salt has
also risen due to increased demand for use as a food
preservative and decreased supply from Laputta, which was a
major salt producer before the storm.

20. (SBU) TRANSPORTATION: More Rangoon commuter busses
resumed service on May 12. However, the price of
transportation between the delta and Rangoon remained high.
An Embassy contact reported a ticket for a bus from Rangoon
to Bogolay in the delta was 15,000 kyat ($13.60). Before the
storm the trip cost 2,000 kyat ($1.80).

21. (SBU) ELECTRICITY: The government continued to restore
electricity to Rangoon neighborhoods, including parts of the
populous Dagon township. However, much of the city and most
of the delta was still without any power.

22. (SBU) LAW AND ORDER: RSO noted a lack of nighttime
police presence in several central Rangoon neighborhoods.
However, there were no reports of widespread looting or
public disturbances in or around Rangoon.

REFERENDUM
----------

23. (SBU) The GOB went ahead with its referendum on May 10
in all of the areas that were not critically affected by
Cyclone Nargis. On an MFA-sponsored diplomatic tour, two of
our officers were able to view polling in two cities, Myeik
and Kyaingtone. The polling we observed was free of violence
or disturbances, although we did see several instances of
voting irregularities and mismanagement. Reports from other
areas indicated that the voting process was less fair: some
voters were given ballots that had previously been completed,
and others were watched carefully as they voted. In the five
vote counts our officers observed, turnout was high, as was
the percentage of "yes" votes recorded (see Septel).
VILLAROSA

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