This Travel Warning is being issued to inform American citizens of the destruction caused to Burma by Cyclone Nargis from May 2-3, 2008. The Department of State has authorized the departure from Burma of non-emergency American citizen employees of U.S. Embassy Rangoon and eligible family members. American citizens in cyclone-affected areas should strongly consider departing Burma on commercially available flights. American citizens outside of Burma should defer non-essential travel to Burma at this time.
On May 2, Cyclone Nargis hit Burma near the lower Irrawaddy Delta region with winds of 120 to 150 mph. The storm traveled inland in an east-northeast direction and hit Rangoon later the same day. Authorities have reported over 10,000 deaths as of May 5. Information on the situation outside Rangoon is limited at this time. Authorities have indicated that many villages in the southwest part of the delta region have been largely decimated.
The cyclone also caused widespread damage in Rangoon. Trees and power lines were torn down and rain caused flooding in many areas. Many telecommunications lines were cut. Buildings have been badly damaged throughout the city, and significant numbers of people have been left without adequate shelter. Electricity in Rangoon could take weeks to restore. Water supplies have also been disrupted, which could give rise to health problems. Many roads remain impassable due to flooding or fallen trees and debris.
The Burmese Government has declared disaster areas in five central and southern regions: Rangoon, Irrawaddy, Bago, Mon, and Kayin. Authorities announced that they have deployed military and police units for rescue, rehabilitation, and cleanup operations in Rangoon and the Burmese Government has requested international relief assistance.
On May 5, the Rangoon International Airport reopened for international commercial flights. American citizens in cyclone-affected areas should strongly consider departing Burma on commercially available flights. American citizens outside of Burma should defer non-essential travel to Burma at this time. Fuel shortages have been reported, and some incidents of looting have been observed. U.S. Embassy personnel and their families have been advised to avoid traveling at night.
The Department of State and the Embassy in Rangoon are continuing to follow developments closely. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Cautions, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Security information can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
U.S. citizens in Burma are encouraged to register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. Registration can be done on-line through the State Department’s travel registration website https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs, or via the Embassy’s website http://burma.usembassy.gov. Americans in Burma unable to access the internet are welcome to register in person or by telephone. Also, the Embassy may be able to provide limited email usage this week at the Embassy to American citizens seeking to inform family members of their safety and welfare; please ask the Consular Section for more information.
The Embassy is located at 110 University Ave, Kamayut Township, Rangoon. The Embassy’s phone numbers are (95-1) 536-509, 536-756, and 538-038. The consular section’s extension is 4240, and email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Embassy’s after-hours emergency numbers are the same as above, all followed by extension 4014, and the after-hours mobile phone number is 09-512-4330. The Embassy’s hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal and Burmese holidays).