Top officials from the United Nations Office at Nairobi, members of staff from UN-HABITAT and UNEP together with the diplomatic community on Wednesday came together to remember the victims of the devastating earthquake and cyclone in China and Myanmar.
“It is with heavy hearts that we stand here today to mourn the deaths of countless tens of thousands of people in the cyclone that hit Myanmar on 2 May, and just 10 days later the devastating earthquake that struck Sichuan Province in China” UN-HABITAT Deputy Executive Director Ms. Ingar Bjork-Klevby who represented the UNON Director General Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said.
The solemn gathering observed a minute of silence. A candle and incense lighting ceremony was held together and a poem was recited by youth from MCEDO-Beijing school in Mathare slums in Nairobi.
Others who addressed the meeting included Mohammed Raeifi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republlic of Iran, and dean of Asia Group who represented the Union of Myanmar and Xue Bing the Charge d'affaire at the embassy of China.
A devastating earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck some areas of the Sichuan Province in the southwestern region of the People’s Republic of China on the afternoon of May 12th 2008. Heavy casualties and serious property losses have been reported. As of May 26th, the death toll had risen to between 62,000 and 80,000 with over 280,000 people injured and more than ten million people directly affected. This is the People’s Republic of China’s second such devastating earthquake since the Great Tangshan earthquake of 1976 that struck in the city of Tangshan, north-east of Beijing, killing more than 240,000 people.
In the Union of Myanmar, according to the Red Cross figures, as high as 128,000 people have been killed and about 2.4 million have been severely affected by the cyclone Nargis that struck on May 2nd 2008, with the Irrawaddy delta in the south of the country among the hardest hit areas. Approximately 60 per cent of infrastructure in the delta has been destroyed or damaged, as have three quarters of the area’s schools. Estimated losses are at $10 billion specifically in the areas of Irrawaddy Delta and Yangon.