Some regions of Myanmar were struck by the severe Cyclone Nargis, which originated in the Bay of Bengal as a low pressure area.
Cyclone Nargis with a diameter of 150 miles became stronger and stronger and on May 2 at 10 am, with a wind speed of 50 to 60 miles per hour; at midnight with a wind speed of 70 miles per hour and at 2 pm with a wind speed of 120 miles; struck Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago Divisions and Mon and Kayin States on 2 and 3 May 2 and 3, then moved into north eastwards and had already weakened .
At the national level, the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee, formed since 2005 and is headed by the prime minister, deals with prevention, relief, health, transportation, security and social welfare.
Cyclone Nargis claimed a number of casualties and property in several areas in Yangon, Ayeyarwady and Bago Divisions and Mon Kayin States. Immediate relief measures have been carried out as a rationed task.
As of May 8, the death toll has risen to 22997, while some 42,119 have been either injured or missing in the Ayeyarwady Division. There has been no report of foreign tourists hurt in the tragedy.
Relief supplies, which include food and medical supplies, tents, water purifiers, plastics and clothes, have been pouring in from local and international organizations and from various governments all over the world.
As from May 5, domestic and international airlines have resumed their fights at Yangon International Airport, which was temporarily closed on May 3 and 4. All hotels of international standards are operating now. Telecommunications and transportation services have now become accessible.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism prioritized its relentless efforts with the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee and the local authorities of cyclone hit- districts and townships.
Since May 3, there have been timely, communications between the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the responsible persons of the hotels and travel agencies. Basic relief measures have been contributed strongly supported by the private sector.
The disaster shocked each and everyone in the hotel and tourism industry, with much concern for the visiting tourists. However, we are relieved to know that the tourists who were visiting Myanmar were safe and sound touring Mandalay and Bagan in the central part of Myanmar.
We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the patience and tolerance for any inconvenience incurred, when the international flights have been disrupted for two days.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism expresses deep appreciation and gratitude to the local and international community and organizations, kind sympathy and emergency relief in words and kind by friends far and near.
The recovery measures are still under way and we look forward to more support and cooperation. The hospitality, the culture and the traditions of the people of Myanmar welcomes you to Myanmar.
[Mr. Myint Win writes for Myanmar Travel Information Magazine. To find out more about his work, point your browser to www.myanmartravelinformation.com.]