The bodies come and go with the tides. They wash up onto the riverbanks or float grotesquely downstream, almost always face down. They are all but ignored by the living.
In the southern reaches of the Irrawaddy Delta, where the only access to hundreds of small villages is by boat, the remains of the victims of the May 3 cyclone that swept across Myanmar are rotting in the sun.
“When we first saw the bodies floating past, we were sad and afraid,” said Aung Win, a 45-year-old rice farmer, who seemed to have survived because his house is made of hardwood. “Now we just say, here comes another body.”
In the less devastated areas, the military junta was focused on a constitutional referendum on Saturday intended to cement its power after a campaign of intimidation, even as it continued to restrict foreign aid shipments.
Relief experts say the aid being distributed is a fraction of what is needed to help as many as 1.5 million people facing starvation and disease. The military appeared to be diverting some resources from cyclone victims to the referendum. One resident of Yangon, speaking by phone, said refugees who had sought shelter in schoolhouses were forced out so the buildings could be used as polling places.
More information at The New York Times.