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. Nick

    First of all, there NOT 100,000 dead. An official simply said that the death toll COULD reach that number. It hasn't happened yet.

    Secondly, the mere idea of the military junta stalling visas is paramount to genocide. This should be reason enough for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution authorizing military action to oust this regime. Burma should be free to choose their own government. One that will protect and respond to disasters like this one.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Randy J. Cole

    Could it be that the country of Burma is slowing the aid because it sees this as an easy way of removing the unwanted from its land?

    May 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Laurie B

    One single act of nature and a loss of 100,000+ lives. It is shocking and makes for great photos for the media. What about the hundreds of thousands of lives lost annually in the United States to cancer and yet our leadership continues to cut cancer research funds and turn their backs on the opportunities and cures that stem cell treatments can provide. What is more shocking – that our own let 100,000 die one at a time? Long miserable deaths? Or that nature takes 100,000 quickly in one punch? Seems to me that nature is almost the kinder killer of the two.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  4. TK

    Annie- let's keep in mind that the US has many enemies that would like to do us harm, and a lack of protocol for allowing folks into the country would provide an increased security risk. I'm certainly not defending the handling, or mis-handling, of Katrina. Those issues are well-documented.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  5. Carl

    Maybe it will help put into perspective the 650,000 plus Iraqis killed since 2003. That was a result of simply delivering democracy.

    If this is the worst disaster some people have ever seen in their life, they have short memories.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  6. Roz D.

    Counting my many blessings everyday

    May 8, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  7. Jaime

    It's a sad situation going on in Myanmar right now with all the devastation from the cyclone. But it is more sad that the government of that country will not let U.S. aid planes land to deliver needed supplies. It's times like this where I say, if they don't want our help, then we should honor their wishes, but don't ask for our help for anything in the future.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  8. Greg

    When a government displays a complete lack of regard in caring for its people as this government has, it is a moral imperative for the international community to come together and use all means necessary to come in and provide that care for the people. I pray that men and women of courage (in leadership here and internationally) will do just this. Every moment counts. ( I've been sad to see how narcicistic we as a nation in the US have been with our preoccupation over our Democratic primary soap opera! )

    May 8, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  9. Amy

    Knowing what we went through here in NOLA, it is sad to see another country go through something like this and what's worse, of such a magnitude and to a people already hurting so because of the unethical, oppressive regime under which they live. My prayers go to them and that their officials let in the badly needed aid. New Orleanians know first hand – TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

    I feel for the children caught in this situation. I fear

    May 8, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  10. Anita

    The response by the US Government is awful – $250,000. You have 350,000,000 people, could you all not give $1. Canada has only 35,000,000 people and have given 8 times what the US. Sadness does not help, AID can!

    May 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  11. JR

    CNN needs to analyze what humanitarian assistance means. It is assistance provided under the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. That means no military support, and no political posturing against the government in Myanmar.

    A key problem here is that the US and apparently now France are politically positioning on the delivery of humanitarian aid. This aid must arrive very quickly, and the Myanmar military junta must be convinced that there is no secondary 'agenda' in order to allow that aid to come. President Bush's offer of $3 million is minimal, and the offer of US Navy assistance is provocative. The use of military in these situations should be avoided, the only thing of importance is getting aid to the people of Myanmar who my die without it. Criticizing the government is something that may sound fine to Bush or Sarkozy, but now is NOT the time. Sarkozy has even gone so far as to propose 'forcible' assistance by the UN. So the UN should invade Mynamar? How prepostourous, even were it an option it is entirely unfeasible given that we need aid there in 1 or 2 days. Now UN workers are in danger of being seen as the forefront of a military invasion by paranoid junta members. With each passing comment fewer visas will be expedited.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  12. Shawn from Kansas

    This should be an eye opener for all Americans about how we have become viewed in the eyes around the world. They have a horrific tragedy on their hands, and when we try to reach out with aid – they say no thanks. Our image needs repaired !

    May 8, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Kevin (Fremont, CA)

    This is absolutely incredible. AC, are you heading over to do some investigative reporting? I hope he does because they do such a great job of covering all the angles and at the same time attract interest which creates a global response. Keep up the hard hitting style of news AC 360! Stories need to be told with facts in mind, not spin.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  14. Jennifer

    For delkid, please don't say that about global warming! That is the only way to get people to reduce, reuse and recycle! Even if it is just another earth cycle, people still need to quit using and throwing away. We take for granted so much and will eventually pay for it in one way or another. As far as the cyclone victims are concerned, it's a horific loss of life but natural disasters are going to happen no matter what we try to do about it. All we can do is heed the warnings, if any were given, and take responisibility for the consequences of our actions. Death is a necessary part of life and there is no avoiding it. We can be there to help rebuild but can't be everywhere at once.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  15. lcw

    I love how our government shakes it's fist at Burma's (proper name) junta for lack-luster response to this disaster. Where were these pecker-heads when Katrina hit the south?! I know, if Katrina had blasted the U.S. northeast or the west coast then that would have been worthy of a better response; the south is still getting kicked in the 21st century. I like that "we" are trying to help the Burmese people, I just hate our governments double standards...

    May 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  16. nay:

    It's really insane, Burmese government still hesitates to grant visa to aid teams to enter into country even though they (gov) are not able to help the people in need by themselves. No matter how people are suffering, they only think for their own good, in other words, to hold the power, rule the country and hide their harsh dictatorship. They can seal the mouths of its own people by gun and prison but they are not able to control foreigners and aid teams members. That's why, they are not letting them to enter into country. I don't know why UN is so patient. It's 100,000 lives already!! Please decide something to help people in there as soon as possible, before death toll doubling or tripling. Don't wait to throw that military regime by international forces. They are not worth to try diplomatically.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  17. OHS

    I hate to say this, but 100,000 people to the junta means their military gets to take a vacation–from their regular killing spree. Something has to be done about this junta– and this devastation is unreal– the satellite photos are very telling. I just hope China can convince them to let aid workers in– this is just horrible.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  18. Mark

    If the world powers want to flex their muscles now is the time!!!!

    They are the best at fighting a war or humanitarian aid, which would you pick to spend millions on?

    May 8, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  19. Doug Krutsinger

    As sad as this is, it's disgusting to see how apathetic people are to the disaster. On fark.com, only one thread has been posted about the cyclone, and people used the opportunity to talk about Battlestar Galactica. Any attempts to change the conversation to this horrid disaster were met with scorn and ridicule.

    Seems we as americans are turning our backs on the problems of the world more and more. Just because it's on the other side of the world apparently gives us reason to crack jokes about it and act like it never happened.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Terrance

    Sad to see so many people die. May all souls rest in peace...Thanks for the analogy..

    May 8, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  21. Jay

    We (USA) are always so willing to help others, even when they don't want it. How about we start taking care of our own people?????

    May 8, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  22. Joshua

    From reading a number of these comments, I can see that our existence on this earth has been a lucky existence. Luck to see that America, with all its grace bestowed on it, harbors shallow attitudes from it American populace. On one hand there are those that send out their prayers for the afflicted. And on the other, those that don't give a rats a_s. This tragedy is a message we did not comprehend the first time around with the
    Indonesian Tsunami. After seeing such peril, those that feel they are untouchable have close their hearts to the truth. We are not gods, but children of a higher being, that is where the truth lies. Not in shortsighted selfish attitudes.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  23. anie

    As bad as I believe that tragedy is, I do see a touch of irony in the US voicing complaint that they are not allowing aid in. The US refused tons of foreign aid during Katrina. Not just supplies but the offer of rescue workers, etc. The reasoning was that we had no protocol for accepting aid like that from foreign countries. That being said, there should just be a focus on help and not on condemnation for a govt ill equipped to handle the situation, ill equipped to help themselves. After all our own track record is not so great on this.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  24. Claudia

    This is truly the worst diaster I've seen in my life time but at the same time it's not for me to ask why. I can't see how some of this magnitude could have been avoided.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  25. Gary

    I feel very sorry for this happening, I feel very sorry for the people of Iraq, I feel very sorry for all the down and out, hopeless of the world... but, i live in america, and we have just as much tradegy, suffering, forgotten people, hungry children, in just about any location of teh United States. When are we going to stop allowing our hard earned wages and resoursces taken from our mouths, to help the masses elsewhere. Where are the Saudi's with aid for the needy of the world, when are all of the billions OWED to the United states in loans, maybe we should allocate a couple of weeks of the Bush War Chest, to help our own first, then we can help others.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  26. Aeric Solow

    Now that many of you have realized how terrible of a loss has occurred in Burma, why not do something to help. I just donated $50 to World Vision which has provided aid in the country for more than 40 years and was specifically asked by the ruling junta to help cyclone survivors. If we really care we should be moved to act. Although its not alot of money if thousands more at least do something our collective efforts will amount to something great that can save the lives of thousands who are in need.

    May 8, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  27. KAUNG

    News from Radio Free Asia confrimed that the ruling Generals are aiding their names on the Relief Food packages from Thai, as they are the one whose supporting the people. Shame.....

    May 8, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  28. Danny Z

    All you bleeding heart people should ask the real qusestion.... Why with two days notice, did no one warn these people and have them prepare for the storm????? And do you really think the aid you send will go to these people or to their oppressive government.....

    May 8, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  29. Denise

    I think Sven had a good idea. If people have a bad government sooner or later they will be able to overcome it. It's not our job to go in and "rescue" them.ie Iraq.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
  30. Terri

    How devastating. I just hope help gets to the survivors and FAST!

    May 8, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  31. Anu

    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? Agreed 100000 died but there are probably 400K or 500K humans left in the affected area who face disease and death due to lack of food,clothing,shelter and the danger of epidemics like cholera,malaria...etc is the world going to watch while a civilization rots away or are we going to do something about this?

    May 8, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  32. Florida resident

    Back there, people are really poor and they can't afford any furniture and live in huts built around 4 wooden poles and stitched with palm leaves. Wind over 150MPH and rising tides are just like instant death sentence from many people. And people who are left alive just doesn't have anything at all, no farm, no fishing boats, no cattle.

    All because the military junta negelected their basic needs and left them poor. Now they don't let American supply planes into the country.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  33. Pat

    I get chastised by my liberal friends about how the US is always intervening in the affairs of other countries, mostly referring to our policy in Iraq. Now they seem to have forgotten that – we aren't wanted in Myanmar and have been told specifically to stay out – but they don't want to. Is the suffering of the people in Myanmar different than all the people who suffered under Hussein in Iraq?

    May 8, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  34. Minda

    I had the same thoughts that Gary Chandler from Canada had. Invasion!! At least it would be an invasion with good reason. I grew up in Fayetteville, NC as as army brat, Anderson's visual puts the numbers into perspective. Unbelievable!!!

    May 8, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  35. Tom

    We could do without Berkeley, CA. (jk)

    Seriously, the tragedy of the situation is the government that won't allow the humanitarian response that is needed in that catastrophe. They will make this tragedy worse than it already is.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  36. Ann Scott

    Imagine the University of Michigan or University of Tennessee football stadiums filled to capacity .... but with children and babies occupying 50% of the seats. Each venue holds over 100,000. This tragedy is compounded by the evil of the military leaders of Myanmar.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:33 pm |
  37. Sven

    I know this may not be the exact forum for my comment, but listening to the news of this catastrophe has been both sad and frustrating. Frustrating because no one is talking about the elephant in the room here. As all of you may have heard, the government of Burma is not issuing visas to foreign aid workers at all, or at least not in a timely manner. I have heard scores of journalists speculate on why this may be and ususally their answer is that this is just "a strange country." Anyone who has studied the recent history of Burma knows that the government is waging a campaign of genocide against its ethnic minorities, particularly the Karen people. The delta most affected by this natural disaster is predominantly populated by the Karen people. It is no mystery why the Burmese government is slow to respond, the victims of the cyclone are the very same poeple the Burmese government has been trying to eradicate for decades. The government of Burma has no real incentive to help these poor victims. Think Katrina to the tenth power.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  38. Marc

    Why is it that we are sending them aid? Why can't they use this catastrophe as a wake up call? Rise up against their government, build a society that is self-sufficient? I don't want to sound cruel but, would it not be better to let them learn to use a fishing rod rather than to keep sending them fish?

    With a world population of nearly 7 billion, the loss of 100,000 people is insignificant. Monies would be better spent helping them create an autonomous society so that they can fend for themselves.

    If we keep sending them aid, will they never learn?

    May 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm |
  39. Michelle

    This is just sad....unimaginable!!

    May 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm |
  40. Pawan

    I cant imagine a city like Cambridge, MA dissapearing from the map. I have close friends who live there and I would truly be devastated if anything like that happened here. This comparion does drive it home for me! God bless the people of Mayanmar. -OSR-

    May 8, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  41. Tom Snee

    I feel bad for the people of Myanmar, however, I look at this as the world's way of trying to fix the problems we have created. Over population is one of the earths biggest problems and its only getting worse. People should be more aware of the area they live in the inherent dangers it may pose. The people of Hurricane Katrina were living below sea level and common sense would lead one to believe that this is an inherent danger. My beliefs have nothing to do with race or social status. I will feel the same way when Manhattan starts to sink as the worlds oceans rise and when Los Angelas falls into the Sna Andreas fault.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  42. Linda New Orleans, LA

    We will keep you in our prayers Myanmar.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  43. Jeff

    Richard said at May 8th, 2008 11:36 am ET – "100,000 men, women, and children dead. Sad, and tragic. Some god huh?"

    If there was no God, this sort of event would really show you how small and insignificant we are in a harsh, purpose-less universe. However, belief in the Lord, comforts those of faith. The dead have been gathered to their people. Christians believe that if a person accepts God's love and forgiveness, then these 100,000 people could be happier today than a week ago. They are alive, have bodies, and are living in a real, physical paradise with God. Some God! I will praise you in the storm!

    May 8, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  44. Alex

    I went to Myanmar several years ago and it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. The ordinary citizens were like angels, incredibly humble and gracious and so selfless. We in the West could learn a lot from the Burmese.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  45. DM

    does anyone remember? 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake – 229,000 dead, 2005 Kashmir earthquake -79,000 dead, 150,000 dead in Iraq war. This list has no beginning and no end. 99% will say "Wow! that's a lot of people" and will forget it by tomorrow's breakfast. people are ignorant and no blog can change it. death of one is tradegy, death of many – statistics.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm |
  46. Garth

    Since the USA is about 6 times as populous as Myanmar, to the US it would be like six of these cities being wiped out.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm |
  47. Ben

    In response to Richard's comment above:
    I highly agree that 100,000 men, women, and children is tragic and beyond sad. As to the comment "some god huh?" I would say that you're right, he is some God. Obviously I am noting the sarcasm used in your comment.
    The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the universe we inhabit. Everything in Creation is subject to devastation and tragedy, Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.
    Why did God "allow" Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of hundreds of thousands of people? What we can know is this…God is good! There are many amazing miracles, in instances of natural disaster, that occurred – preventing an even greater loss of life.
    God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:08 pm |
  48. delkid

    100,000 people are dead. Natural disasters happen and foreign aid does not bring people back to life. We can't prevent these from happening, and we can't protect 3rd world nations who do not have proper transportation and communications to evacuate their population. These deadly storms can easily be detected 36hours out. That is why this comparison to the U.S. is unrealistic, at least those cities would evacuate before they were hit. Realistically Katrina was bad, but it could have been much worse then it was without the preliminary evacuations. The people who stayed behind in their homes took their own risks.

    Also anyone who thinks that natural disasters are a result of "cutting down trees" and CO2 emissions needs to get their head checked. There is just zero evidence for this. History has shown that disasters happen, and our reliable recorded weather history barely goes back 200 years...and our planet is millions of years old...and we think we know what our average # of storms and guage their severity based on what has been recorded "lately". History has also shown that our planet goes through various climate patterns and phases every couple hundred years, accompanied by a increased amount of natural disasters during the phase change.

    I consider 100,000 people to be catastrophic, but instead of us swooping in to help after they are dead maybe we should fly in the aid before the storm and help them evacuate instead of cleaning up the mess.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:08 pm |
  49. Leo

    Your illustrations makes me imagine how one city of 100K people become a no mans land overnight......THIS SCARES A HECK OUT OF ME......but if you think about it, I guess it's pay back time for mother nature....We did a lot of things to destroy our environment for quite a while now and this catastrophe is sort of a reminder to us all that mother nature can also destroy us if she wishes to! This is a wake up call to all of us......poor Burmese brothers/ sisters!

    May 8, 2008 at 12:08 pm |
  50. Reality

    6.4 Billion people on the planet, everyone of them will be dead in 100 years. Of course, another 9 billion or so will have taken their place, but the numbers show that over 175,000 people die on the planet every day. ANY future disaster in any populated area statisticly demands that more people will be affected. I would say we need to get used to these types of death tolls or we will be in a constant state of depression and overwhelming empathy.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:05 pm |
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