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Cablegate: Tfxo01: (12/29) Burmese Government Ups Tsunami

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS RANGOON 001643

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, CA TASK FORCE, OPS CENTER
BANGKOK, KATHMANDU FOR USAID
USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AEMR CASC PREL PINR PGOV AMGT BM
SUBJECT: TFXO01: (12/29) BURMESE GOVERNMENT UPS TSUNAMI
CASUALTY FIGURES

REF: A. 12/29/04 TASK FORCE-RANGOON TELCOM
B. RANGOON 1633 AND PREVIOUS
C. STATE 274365

1. (SBU) Summary: As of December 29th, the GOB's official
earthquake/tsunami death toll in Burma is 51 dead and 70
missing, though the real numbers may be higher. There have
been no reports of Amcit casualties or verified cases of
missing Americans. The GOB has declined offers of assistance
from international organizations, stating that it is still
assessing the impact of the December 26th events and that it
has the capacity to deal with the situation. Rangoon
experienced yet another earthquake in the early hours of
December 29th, considerably smaller than the December 26th
quake, but there were no casualties or damage reported. End
Summary.

The Toll Rises

2. (SBU) Three days after the December 26th earthquakes and
tsunami, the GOB increased its official tally of dead,

SIPDIS
missing, and injured in the country. The Minister of Home
Affairs told the Chief of Mission (COM) on December 29th that
at latest count there were 51 dead and 70 missing. In a
December 28th statement, the Deputy Information Minister
announced that in addition there were 45 injured and 788
homeless. Some UN sources believe these numbers are
understated, but the UN's top representative in Burma says he
has seen no evidence to contradict the GOB's overall
assessment. A UNDP assessment mission dispatched to the
remote regions of the Irrawaddy delta is expected to report
back to Rangoon on December 30th.

3. (U) Most of the dead, missing, and injured are located in
the far southeastern coastal region of Tanintharyi Division,
on the Andaman Sea, and in the Irrawaddy delta region
southwest of Rangoon (on the Gulf of Martaban, Andaman Sea).
Unverified press reports also claim 10 dead fisherman in the
Bay of Bengal. However, as previously reported by Embassy
Rangoon (ref B), and contrary to the Department's public
announcement of December 28th (ref C), we have received
several reports (including from Emboffs and other diplomats
on location) that the touristed beach areas along the Bay of
Bengal, to the west and northwest of Rangoon, have not
suffered any casualties or major damage.

Amcits are Fine

4. (U) There have been no reported American citizen
casualties to date. Embassy Rangoon's consular section has
made inquiries as to the whereabouts of nine pleasure craft
carrying foreigners, at sea on the 26th from the port town of
Kawthaung, Tanintharyi Division. According to the Ministry
of Hotels and Tourism, all of the craft are accounted for and
five have returned undamaged to port.

GOB: No Plan and No Aid

5. (SBU) The COM asked the Minister of Home Affairs whether
the GOB would request international assistance. He was
vague, telling her only that the GOB was "still waiting and
reviewing figures and damage." The GOB did not accept a
December 27th offer of aid by the World Health Organization
or subsequent offers by other UN agencies. The COM also
pressed the Minister on Burma's preparedness plan should a
major earthquake strike in or near population centers in
Burma (the country is on a major fault line). The Minister
demurred and seem surprised to learn from the COM and his
subordinates that Rangoon had experienced another, minor
earthquake at about 0330 (local) on December 29th (there were
no casualties or damage reported from this latest quake).
MARTINEZ

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