Burma's Second Agony

Months after a brutal military crackdown, the impoverished Asian country is devastated by a cyclone. A look at a nation's calamity


An aerial view of devastation caused by the cyclone Nargis is seen at an unknown location in Myanmar on May 6, 2008.

The people of Burma take omens seriously. For centuries, the vagaries of weather have been scrutinized by astrologers who divine a relationship between celestial irregularities and earthly mayhem. So when a tropical cyclone tore across the country on May 2 and 3, killing tens of thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in the Irrawaddy River delta and the city of Rangoon, Burmese couldn't help noting the curious timing: exactly a week later, on May 10, the thuggish ruling junta was set to hold a constitutional referendum, a step toward what the military has called a discipline-flourishing democracy. Then the heavens...

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