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Massive Cyclone Ravages Myanmar, Tests Government

A large cyclone hit the nation of Myanmar Saturday, bringing widespread damage and causing major harm to its citizens, killing upwards of 10,000 people. Relief agencies are rushing to respond, and the event is seen by many as a test of the military junta's ability to direct the relief effort.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    We begin tonight with the deadly cyclone in Myanmar, the former Burma.

    Judy Woodruff spoke earlier today with Pamela Sitko, a communications manager with World Vision. She is based in Bangkok, Thailand.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Pam Sitko, thank you very much for joining us.

    First of all, tell us what you've learned about the situation on the ground in Burma.

  • PAMELA SITKO, Communications Manager, World Vision:

    Well, I just got off the phone with a team in Yangon City.

    Yangon is in complete darkness tonight. Electricity has been cut off for two days. Water supply has come to a halt. And communication lines have been severed, for the most part. So, Yangon has faced some massive destruction because of this cyclone.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, that is the largest city in Burma. What are you hearing about the rest of the country?

  • PAMELA SITKO:

    Well, World Vision is concerned about the dense populations.

    Coastal communities in the Irrawaddy River delta area, we still don't have communication from them, or very little information coming out from those areas. And, so, it's still anybody's guess what's taking place in those hard-hit areas.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Is your team on the ground giving you a sense of how much of the country has been affected?

  • PAMELA SITKO:

    Little by little, bit by bit, roadways start to become cleared. There are people out there volunteering to remove the debris and the large, enormous trees that are scattered across the highways.

    Information is starting to come out more. Communication in general has been extremely difficult all around the country. You will notice, by the changing death toll figures, it's extremely difficult to get information.

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