India sending two relief ships to cyclone-hit Myanmar (Lead)

May 5th, 2008 - 8:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Expressing “deep distress” at the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, India is despatching two naval ships loaded with relief supplies as aid to the cyclone-battered nation where over 350 people were killed and thousands rendered homeless. Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar Friday night with winds of speed up to 190 kmph. It subsided after 10 hours Saturday morning leaving behind large-scale devastation in several areas of Yangon and the Irrawady delta.

The military-run Myanmar government has declared a state of emergency. According to media reports from Yangon, the foreign ministry had solicited aid through its envoys.

A ministry of external affairs statement said Monday that President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee have sent individual messages to the Myanmar government “expressing their deep distress” at the devastation caused by the natural disaster.

“They have also conveyed India’s readiness to provide immediate emergency relief assistance and to assist Myanmar in its rehabilitation efforts,” it said.

According to the MEA press note, two naval ships were being loaded with relief supplies, mainly food items, tents, blankets, clothing, medicines and meals-ready-to-eat (MRE) for immediate assistance. They will be despatched from Port Blair for Yangon.

India will send more relief material once a better assessment is made of the requirement by the Indian embassy in Yangon and the Myanmarese authorities.

All Indian nationals in Myanmar were reported to be safe, said an MEA official. “We had not been able to contact our embassy as all communication lines were down yesterday (Sunday). Contact was finally made today (Monday),” he said.

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