July 17th, 2008
10:28 AM ET

Evading the junta to witness Myanmar disaster

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/15/art.bettydarkness.jpg caption="By nightfall, we were stowing away like fugitives."]

Betty Nguyen
CNN Anchor

There are your tough assignments and then there are those that border on the impossible. Myanmar is one of the world’s most secretive nations for a reason.

Foreign journalists are banned from the country. Tourists are even finding it difficult to get a visa, especially Americans. So the odds were already stacked against us.

I can’t say how we got in the country but that was only half the battle. Devising a plan to get down to the area devastated by Cyclone Nargis in May would be much harder.

The junta government has sealed off all entrances to the Irrawaddy delta. Checkpoints are set up in nearly every town. For days we pored over maps and scouted out the safest routes.

Spinning with frustration, we finally came up with an idea. It was risky. If caught, we could be deported and the locals helping us faced prison time. We had to move quickly and carefully.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Betty Nguyen • Myanmar
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Megan Dresslar

    Hi Betty,
    Thanks for reporting from this city. I am praying for your safety on the trip. I hope you need be careful and I know why, I agree with bloggers, they never received someone's visa to help poor people. They denied their request the visa..... I am so sad for poor people not have food, blanket, water, and etc. I am thinking if we can't help each other. Keep going on blog, I will hear from you. Take care yourself.
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, WA

    July 17, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  2. Timothy Nelson - Hopkins, Minnesota

    Dear Betty,

    Superb reporting and looking the same. Keep it up!

    July 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  3. Joy in NY

    We had a missionary who has been living in myanmar for years (he is not there now his visa is being denied), tell us that the people most affected by the cyclone are from a particular tribe that the govt hates and wouldnt mind getting rid of and so they are happy to sit back and do nothing.Their own govt is hoping they will all die. Also the tents put up for distributing food only operate at daytime and at night the soldiers chase the people out so they can spend the night in those tents

    July 17, 2008 at 12:45 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    After reading your story I still wonder why Myanmar would not accept offered aid and assistance from other nations for their people. Its difficult to understand how a country can ignore and neglect their citizens this way and leave them in their pain and the squalor of disaster.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 17, 2008 at 12:22 pm |
  5. Susan


    Thanks for your reporting from Myanmar. I admire the determination and courage it requires of you to do this kind of reporting. This is such a waste of human life. It really did not have to be this horrific. We would respond if only their government was a little more cooperative.
    It makes me very sad. I hope that you will stay safe along with the ones you are with.

    Thank you and be safe !!!


    July 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  6. Kaye, Pensacola & Chattanooga

    Hi Betty – thank you for your dedication and tenacity! I cannot imagine how nerve-wracking that must have been for you, your team and the locals that helped you. I concur with Cindy on all accounts. However, I am afraid that they are not getting much (if any) of the aide being sent to them. Keep up the great work!

    July 17, 2008 at 11:06 am |
  7. Cindy

    Thanks for your reports and for taking that great risk of being caught just to let us see what really is going on in Myanmar. I can only hope that more people can do the same and give us more insight into how things are progressing along there.

    It is sad that the people of Myanmar seem to still be without much help from their own government. It seems like they are on their own when it comes to survival. I hope that they are actually getting the aide that is being sent to them.


    July 17, 2008 at 10:37 am |