May 7th, 2008
04:42 PM ET

What 100,000 people means...

David Reisner
360° Digital Producer

A U.S. diplomat says the Myanmar cyclone death-toll may top 100,000…

It’s hard to fathom just how many people 100,000 really amounts to.
How do we take in the death of that many people at once?

Here's one way to look at it: Imagine any one of these U.S. cities disappearing - overnight.
That drives it home for me, what about for you?


What 100,000 means

  • Berkeley, California
  • Burbank, California
  • Waterbury, Connecticut
  • Pompano Beach, Florida
  • Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Springfield, Illinois
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Norman, Oklahoma
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Beaumont, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2006

Filed under: Cyclone • Myanmar
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Prassi

    I pray god that atleast children and Infants they shoud not suffer...
    Oh..God..I pray for all burmans who lost their Loved ones.

    May 9, 2008 at 3:09 am |
  2. Angie

    I just hate that govt.....it's like killing their own ppl slowly....I wish I have to power to kill the guy in charge of the country.....stupid....selfish....an animal-minded.

    May 9, 2008 at 2:49 am |
  3. DavidJustinLynch

    Where is our military in all this? How can we let some gang of two bit thugs that call themselves a "government" get in the way of getting desparately needed aid to starving people. Land our Marines, drop some paratroopers. take out the Myanmar generals and get the aid to the suffering. It is more important to aid needy people in a catastrophe than to respect the sovereignty of this so-called government in Myanmar.

    May 9, 2008 at 1:44 am |
  4. Vicky

    I'm from Burma. The house i grew up in has roof blown up and trees fall down. but on one get hurt.
    Usually Burmese people are very friendly and would like to help anyone and everyone.
    It is sad that because of these idiotic generals, the country has go down the drain. we have vast natual resources. country is very rich naturally. imagine British stayed there for over 100 years. the generals are very greedy and they are not educated people. they only rose up the ranks because they know how to kill people.
    for now the most concern is people who are still surviving. who need help the most. 40% of the dead people are children. also lots of children lost their parents.
    some of the people might think that if the goverment don't want it, why bother.
    Burmese have been fighting for Democracy for a long time. People get arrested just for offering the monks for water at last up rising. We who live in America can exercise the freedome. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gave up her life, and family and everyting to bring Democracy to Burma.
    Let's face it, not alot of people know anything about Burma until recently. Burma general wants Burma to be forgetted. The world forget about Burma.
    Well it's about time that we who love freedome let these generals know that it won't last forever. their time is up.

    May 9, 2008 at 12:39 am |
  5. Franklin Strum

    It is sad once again the junta government is punishing its people. With the constant detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and others, we should have guessed that they don't care about their people by blocking aid from countries who want democracies. The problem is the junta runs the government so we have to have permission to go in to give aid.

    May 9, 2008 at 12:12 am |
  6. Julie San Diego, CA

    Ana writes:
    "I wonder if there is any UN clause that allows UN to enter a country forcefully on humanitarian grounds;especially when you have a regime like the one you have in Burma?"

    There is Ana. It's just that no one has the "courage" (I'm tempering my tongue tremendously here...) to put it to the test because they're afraid of setting a precedent. Our diplomats are more afraid of being proper than doing the right thing. Sometime's doing the right thing means being very frank about your expectations.

    How many years after Rwanda and we're still dealing with a UN less effective than a boy scout troop? If there's a bully on the block you've got to stand up to him, and sometimes that means bloodying his nose. Our leaders need to tell the UN that we expect them to invoke their discretion to use force.

    Why do we continue to fund an organization that can't be depended upon to stand up for the most helpless in our society?

    Go rent the movie "Hotel Rwanda" and note the scene where Don Cheadle's character is driving in the fog. He gets out of his vehicle to find out why there's this thumping sound under his tires.

    It's because he's driving over bodies.

    The UN didn't stop it then, they aren't stopping it now.

    A good friend of mine escaped the Khmer Rouge by the skin of his teeth when the helicopter his uncle had chartered (the uncle was in the government that was being overthrown) dipped in Rambo-style to rescue him and other family members. They fled in a hail of gunfire. They survived. He's an ordinary guy. If ordinary people can have that kind of courage, the UN, and anyone else that wants to, can find a way in.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  7. Moe thuzar Myint

    I am Burmese by birth and American by choice. Please understand that all the junta wants from US is money. My mom used to say don't give anything unless you can give whole heartedly. Well, I am not going to give the junta the money. But aid , absolutely. I have beeen in US for 28 years. I do also misss Burma whole a lot. I wish there is more I can do other than typing to message board for AC. God blessed the Burmese people and it is BURMA. I refused to accept the other name.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  8. Todd

    While I disagree with the 'Wagons Ho' approach of breaching a soveriegn nations borders, the historical references in the same post are interesting since it is a similar belief that General Pershing had in WWI that is holding much of the US aid in Thailand.
    Because the US agencies will only operate as US agencies and not in concert with other world agencies, the aid sits until US agencies are given visas. The Myanmar government is fearful of letting US military equipment, including transports into their country, so the humane thing for the US to do here is to get the aid supplies to the Chinese or the Indian governments, who the Burmese 'trust'.
    Unfortunately, this robs the US government of the photo opportunities it craves, and the US people are misled into believing that there was no other option for their government to pursue. And yes, other governments are doing this...

    May 8, 2008 at 10:57 pm |
  9. Krystle

    I am in tears just thinking about what is taking place. My town is a little over 100 000 people. At the same time I am outraged at the thought that dictators can sit in there comfy homes while millions are suffering. It's unimaginable. My heart and prayers goes out to all those that is suffering.

    May 8, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  10. mike

    when i heard 100000 i was thinking wow thats like all of green bay being gone( thats where i live) and then i saw it on the map, thats crazy talk. cnn get out of my head

    May 8, 2008 at 10:42 pm |
  11. terry

    In regards to robert (and not intended to be a direct criticism), in addition to urging this government to accept our support , I think it is critical for us to be introspective and realize that perhaps if myanmar doesnt want our help (even during this period of time) that maybe it is due to our general foreign policy in that and all regions of the world. Essentially, our willingness to help (as offered by the Bush administration) should not be viewed as unique in the eyes of the world nor should the resentment and reservation that such a country has towards us be. I find it appalling that we are loathed that much, that a government and country in this position would refuse aid.

    May 8, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  12. Bill

    I've been to Asia a couple of times and have seen how the locals live in good times. I can't imagine how they are coping in these extreme situations.

    May 8, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  13. robert

    So the Govt of Myanmar does not want our aid, they are afraid that Americans might foment unrest with the persecuted people of that country. I say we dont give it to them or even try to force it on them, only the people of that country can take their freedom back. The US should let the rest of the world take care of the problems for awhile.

    May 8, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  14. Blaise MacLean

    I have a question. When do acts, or inactions (as the case may be) rise to the level of "crimes against humanity"? We have seen this junta place the legitimately elected leader of the country (and Nobel Peace prize winner to boot) in custody for over 10 years, and the world has stood by. We have seen them bludgeon Bhuddist monks, and other demonstrators, to death, time and again, and the world has stood by. We have seen entire rural populations relocated, dispossessed and local cultures destroyed so as to construct a new capital city in the middle of nowhere, and the world has stood by.

    Now we see this Cyclone. The junta had at least 2 days warning from Indian authorities (and from who knows who else?) and they did nothing...and tens of thousands have died. Now they are, for political expediency, resisting the infusion of aid, again for political reasons, and tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands more) are going to die.

    You cite estimates of 100,000 dead, but some other estimates are now reaching a half million people dead or about to die because of the Junta's complete disregard for the lives of their people.

    So, I ask again, when do we get to the stage at which there are crimes against humanity... crimes which are committed not just against the burmese but against all humanity as a species? Because there are multiple international treaties and conventions(such as the genocide Convention and the Rome Statute) which cover off such conduct and there is also customary international law which has a lot to say about mass killing on this scale.

    But, if none of it is invoked; if China is able to block any effort to hold the Burmese accountable, I am left with my second question...of what use is international law, and of what use are all our glorious treaties and conventions?

    Just asking.

    May 8, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  15. GMyers

    Forget 'em. If they don't want the aid then tough. It would likely be squandered away by corrupt officials anyhow. Lets help our own first.

    May 8, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  16. kristi

    as i feel bad for all the family that has been lost and those still trying to come to some comprehension of what has happened, we tend to forget that our country suffered major devastation with katrina and how many people are still homeless and how many have yet to make it back because there is nothing for them. i understand the need for aid over there, but it seems we let our own country down in terms of aid a fews years ago and we still are.

    May 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  17. Mark R.- Morelia, Mex.

    I am surprised that Rev. Wright hasn't come forward to tell the Burmese people that their chickens have come home to roost.

    May 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  18. Ratna, New York, NY

    My paternal great-grand father was from Burma and traveled in the late 19th century as a Indenture labor to the British colonies. Just the thought that I might have potential unknown family there.

    May 8, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  19. Hayley

    Wow...I live near Allentown, Pennsylvania and to imagine the city destroyed is mind boggling. Thank you–the map helps put the situation into perspective.

    May 8, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  20. Sean in Dallas

    Wow! It feels good to know that if anything like that ever happened here our government would respond immediately with unparalleled relief efforts. Our government would never just sit there and do noth....oh wait...um........never mind.

    May 8, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  21. Brad

    While I feel sorry for the people of Myanmar, I don't want to see more of our (U.S.) government resources going to another country while we in so much more need here in America. We have numerous people going hungry daily, millions are jobless right now and we want to help some southeast asian country that doesn't even want to let us in to help. We need to stop being the police and the hospital of the world.

    And for the people who want to compare this to Katrina, you all need to drop that line and realize the following: It is a much larger area than New Orleans, Louisiana area; and the population of NOLA is less than 10% the size of Myanmar; and lastly, the people of NOLA had many warnings (not that that is an excuse for our governments poor response) to evacuate which is a luxury some of the people of Myanmar never had due to the lack of technology is some areas.

    May 8, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  22. John

    100,000 is 1/10th of the number of people who are without homes, food, clean water and sanitation in Burma's Eastern border areas. The IDP's also count forced labor, rape and murder on their list of misery! The SPDC is a more effective killer than any natural disaster.

    May 8, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  23. Nyeinc

    The Burmese government didn’t refuse the international humanitarian assistance for storm relief. It even humbly requested the assistance. It welcomes the assistance, but not the military aircrafts and navy warships from U.S.

    Just the thoughts of U.S Navy warships and aircrafts send the shiver down my spine, man. The Burmese government wants the draft constitution to be approved in the referendum scheduled in two days. Their opponents want it to be rejected and U.S supports their opponents.

    May 8, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  24. Michael Flaherty

    The bottom line is if the Myanmar people will not overthrow there government themselves then this is the future they should come to get used to. Commonsense would tell me if my family members where all killed by the wrath of a cyclone and I was still alive with no food or shelter it's time to overthrow the government. If the government continues to not allow food and aid especially from the UN then the only country who can do anything to sway the Hilter like regime would be china. And we all know china does not care about anything but China. Maybe the us could fire off a couple of tomhack cruise missile's and perhaps wake up the regime in that country.

    May 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  25. Mauro

    Are we so shortsighted that we need a map to realize how much is 100,000 people?

    May 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  26. Nyeinc

    Why are U.S and France so eager and insistent upon helping Burmese cyclone victims with their military (warships, helicopters and aircrafts)? They might not plan to invade the country. They just want to encourage the would-be protestors who want to overthrow the military government non-violently and to intimidate the generals if they plan to crack down.

    May 8, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  27. Gwen, New Orleans

    My heart goes out to those poor people in that region because I survived Hurricane Katrina. We left before the storm, but we had friends and relatives that stayed behind.

    I cringe when I hear our own U. S. government leaders so appalled at the Burma's government "no or slow" response to help the people. To me, the U. S. was guilty of failing to provide swift aid to those Americans who where dying and suffering days after Hurricane Katrina. Our government's, local, state and federal played a power struggle game with people lives to see who would flinch. It took the president 5 days before he even acknowledged Katrina’s devastation. Aid should have come sooner and not with strings attached. Aid that should have taken hours took days. Some people who died in New Orleans could have been saved. I shake my head when I hear how fast the military was able to mobilize to provide aid to a foreign nation that doesn’t want help when our own government wasn't there for us. We do pay taxes in New Orleans.

    I know the people of Burma desperately need help, but for the U. S to condemn Burma's government for playing politics, is disgusting. That is just what they did in New Orleans while aid was being withheld to the people that needed help. We were not looking for a hand out; we were looking for a hand up out of the flooded waters.

    May 8, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  28. Kim in NY

    I agree with Jay. Why are we forcing help on people who don't want it? We have plenty of children right here in this country that will go to bed hungry tonight, haven't seen a dentist or doctor in years, and don't have access to the educational materials needed to succeed. Many of them will sleep in cold beds because their parents (or parent in many cases) can't afford to turn the heat on. It is always politically correct to help during and after tragedy, but we have our own tragedies brewing here. And we have past incidents that still need to be fully addressed – Katrina & Rita victims and tornado victims ( as recently as today) still homeless. I think this whole country is ADHD – we can only concentrate on one thing and only for about three minutes. What will tomorrow's "cause" be?

    May 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  29. Chris

    Glad I was born in the most powerful and stable country in the world. Couldn't imagine the daily hell these people go through over there.

    Nothing is going to change though, we'll give aid and still remain hated and then next year another cyclone will come through killing yet another 1000's more and we'll give aid again then to.

    May 8, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  30. Aung Aung Phyu Lay

    I am an immigrant from Burma. It has been 21 long years since I left Burma and miss her a lot. Now, I have a very heavy heart seeing so many lives were lost. Most likely, I do not know them but I am seeing the faces. Come to think of it, I was not given a chance to leave 21 years ago; I could have been one of those numbers. These simple people have little in their lives and they have lost a lot. Think of the village of 400 where only 4 survived. To add on that, I feel a deep sorrow for the fact that current military Junta is not allowing much needed help from outside.

    Burma needs help in all fronts. This disaster is just one example. It is a big lost for the country. A sane government (elected or not) should take rational action in this kind of situation for the sake of the people.

    May 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  31. Shay

    It's called population cleansing...

    May 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  32. S-man

    Charities are flawed, as has been shown in recent disasters. How does any charity account to where money goes or that it even gets used for a certain purpose? I could donate but with the government denying assistance sending products/goods or whatever to the borders is useless next to mounting money reserves of charities waiting to send. The next thing you know, the money you gave is unaccounted for. This isnt me being selfish. It is me being realistic. We give for so many outworld events but cant even save ourselves in the middle of the greatest crisis. We dont get the outside assistance either. We are often left to fend for ourselves.

    Many parts of me may be hardened by the state of Illinois's scandel problems and other issues in my fed government. I dont need someone telling me I am a bad person for not sending something that likely wont get beyond someones pocket if Myanmar's government doesnt face that they cant protect thier people like any other nation on the globe. If people are tight on money, they are tight on money. The U.S. is severly TIGHT on money. We are borrowing from everyone else.

    People are not required to give to every last charity in order to be decent human beings. I already give to charities where I know it will benefit people that truly need it and they get it. The likes of heaven dont demand that I be a fool, but they do demand that I be smart so I can keep giving in the best capacities.

    May 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  33. Nyeinc

    U.S doesn’t have to air drop its aid. It is very dangerous and inefficient. Since three U.S military aircrafts carrying relief materials are already in Thailand, it could also request the Thai Royal Air Force to transport them to Burma. Yes, it will take a bit longer but it may be the most efficient and least risky way to send the relief assistance to Burma.

    May 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  34. Sking

    Why don't we get a similar visual for how many people have died in Iraq?

    May 8, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  35. David Wray

    The Ruling Military Class is very afraid. When turmoil natural or man made devastates a country or region then there is a unit of vulnerability that exists. This vulnerability can be utilized for infiltration by any nation that might have an interest in this region. So with that said the ruling military is afraid that with aid from any part of the World maybe a point of entry to topple this ruling class or infiltrate this country via unorthodox means.

    May 8, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  36. Dave

    To put this in human perspective, all you need is one mother mourning the loss of one child. Regardless of where, how, or why it happened, we humans have an obligation to help those in need. Katrina, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and monsoons. Help the living recover. Action is needed NOW. Prayers are good, but money, effort and labor are the requirements NOW. Invade- land the planes, feed the victims, vaccinate everyone and help bury or burn the dead!
    Don't rave about Americans versus any other nationality, Don't rant about global warming. Don't pine about an uncaring government. Do the right thing NOW.

    Donate money to any charity listed. Give excess clothing to the Goodwill, Salvation Army or church of your choice. Give of yourself and help. Your one hour of time, your one pledge of 10 dollars, your one bag of clothing helps God wipe a million tears. HELP NOW, bicker later about how to stop the next one.

    May 8, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  37. Ma Thaung

    Per my conversation with my relatives in Rangoon, the people there believe that the current death toll is higher than 100,000. If the victims don't get any aid soon, the toll will rise dramatically. The situation there is absolutely unimaginable. Thanks to CNN Dan Rivers and journalists to bring the truth to the world. The images and news will pressure on the inhumane government to cooperate with the international community.

    May 8, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  38. Chris

    Numbers are overinflated....I'll put good money on it that this "country" if you can call it that has not held a true census ever. Another spin by the press.

    May 8, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  39. Kelly

    We need to go in with or without the people holding the guns permission. Period. They wanted democracy a couple months ago and we did nothing about it and now they are dying and we are doing nothing about it.

    We offered 3.25 million dollars to them, is that a joke??

    The United States of America is turning into the most pathetic country in the world. Hypocrisy and no morals seem to be the standing virtue of American Government. Shame on us. Shame on us.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  40. Scott- Austin, TX

    As much as my heart goes out to the people of Myanmar and all the lives lost, I can't help but see how hypocritical the US government is acting in this situation. As soon as word of this tragedy hit, First Lady Laura Bush was on television, begging the government of Burma to allow aid into the country. Yet, this government was so slow to react when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. As horrible as the cyclone was, this goveernment is still not giving New Orleans what it needs to completely recover from Katrina. Lets do all we can to help the people of Myanmar, but lets not forget about our own citizens still struggling to recover from a hurricane that occurred over two and half years ago

    May 8, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  41. Meg

    Reply to Gary Chandler in Canada

    Why are you talking about what the USA should do to help and "giving your permission" like we asked for it. What was the last thing productive Canada did on the world stage? Sit back and gripe about America is pretty much all it adds up to.

    Everybody (including way too many Americans) want to complain about the American government and blame America for all the worlds' troubles, but you always want big old America to jump in and save the day to every tragedy around the world.

    Give me a break.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  42. kay

    I am from burma but i don't have any of my family member living in the lower part of the country. I do feel the pain for the victims and I feel very angry by the government not letting the aid come in. I am sure many people are hoping for the foreign aid. I am speechless how inhumane the military government is. this is not the time to discuss, this is the time to act. Can UN force the military for the sake of the victims. people don't have much time. I bet the military government will not care about the victims whether 100000 or more fatalities. Believe me because I am from burma. So, I'd like to urge UN or the other powerful organizations to force the government to allow international aids to the country to save the victims. otherwise, i can only imagine the worse. so please help them.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  43. Lee

    Our politicians have no right to criticize - Look how FEMA handled New Orleans. We should be reaching out to their government and not verbally attacking them. Maybe then they would accept our aid offers.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  44. Don

    I feel terrible for these people. I feel terrible for all people experiencing such grief and tragedy but America is suffering as well, only our government is ignoring it. We have people losing their homes. Those people have children. School aged children and perhaps even younger. But no one talks about this. No one talks about the rise in requests for federal aid, be it in welfare or WIC program. I know this may sound terrible but before we go giving away billions to other countries, how about taking care of our own first? We have homeless war veterens begging for money. We have children living on the streets. As a parent I know if I do not have enough money to feed my own family, I cannot possibly help another.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
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