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Tzu Chi Volunteers from Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar Rush to Aid Cyclone Victims

The Buddhist Channel, May 12, 2008

Yangon, Myanmar -- Tropical cyclone Nargis caused great devastation in Myanmar, with damages continuing to rise, and the death toll likely to be in the tens of thousands.

At the first instance, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi volunteer in Myanmar with over 100 local volunteers, immediately carried out distribution of aid supplies and medicine to the disaster victims sheltering in the local temples. On May 10, volunteers from Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan have also arrived in Myanmar, to further assess situations on the ground.

An emergency conference took place at the Tzu Chi headquarter in Taiwan on May 7, where it was decided that Tzu Chi volunteers from Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan would join forces with Myanmar Tzu Chi volunteers to continue the first wave of relief efforts in Myanmar, and to gain additional insights into the nature and extent of damages in order to assess further relief plans. The Tzu Chi assessment team arrived in Myanmar on May 10.

Myanmar's area is approximately 676,500 square kilometers. Among the population of 56.5 million, 1.6 million are of Chinese descent and 89% are Buddhists. Thus after the disaster, temples have become temporary shelters for many victims.

Tzu Chi volunteer in Myanmar is grateful to still have a home after the cyclone struck, but has to live with no electricity and only scarce water. However, the harsh conditions have not dampened Tzu Chi volunteers' will and determination to assist the disaster victims. Tzu Chi has relief items including food, blankets, tents, first aid kits, body bags, on standby to respond to any future recovery operations.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, saddened by and deeply concerned of the situation in Myanmar, has called upon Tzu Chi members around the world to be devout and live each day with piety. "Disasters of the world are the consequences of endless desire, greed, hatred in people's hearts, intertwining and accumulating over infinite time. From the global food crisis to the frequent natural disasters in recent years, we are all witnessing an earth in harm and serious distress". Master Cheng Yen calls on everyone to be compassionate, live simple lives, be grateful to one another, love the planet, and stop damaging mother earth; only then can we stop the onset of further disasters.

Source: Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

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Myanmar Cyclone Disaster Fast Facts

Toll as at May 9, 2008

Dead (official)
Missing (official) 41,054
Dead (US estimate) 100,000 plus
Homeless (UN estimate) 1 million- plus

International contributors

$10 million
$3 million
UNITED STATES $3 million
AUSTRALIA $2.8 million
$2 million in aid.
CANADA $2 million
INDONESIA $1 million
SPAIN $775,000
GERMANY $775,000
CHINA $500,000
FRANCE $320,000
GREECE $300,000
JAPAN $267,570
THAILAND $100,000
$2.1 million
SRI LANKA $25,000

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