YANGON, Burma – A Burmese government-affiliated group denied rumors that fish from cyclone-ravaged areas were unfit to eat after supposedly feeding on human and animals corpses, local media reported Monday.
Since Cyclone Nargis slammed into Burma, which was renamed Myanmar by the ruling military junta, some people in Yangon — the country's biggest city — have been reluctant to eat fish because of rumors they were feeding on the bodies of storm victims.
One rumor circulating was that some fish were found to have human fingers and pieces of jewelry in their stomachs.
"This is not true. We can guarantee that," Toe Nandar Tin, an executive member of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation, told the Myanmar Times newspaper. "(It) is total nonsense. The freshwater fish from delta come from fish farms, not from the rivers."
She said samples of fish were tested to prove they were safe for consumption.
Toe Nandar Tin said the rumors also resulted in the suspension of orders by some foreign buyers, but she did not elaborate. The main buyers of Burma's fish include China, Thailand and Singapore.
The Myanmar Fisheries Federation is an organization representing the private sector, but it is affiliated with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.
About 55 percent of the fishing sector in the country was destroyed, including 2,000 small boats and 329 offshore fishing vessels, according to the Times, a weekly English-language newspaper affiliated with the government.
Massive waves from the cyclone also devastated 37,000 acres (15,000 hectares) of shrimp farms and about 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of fish farms, it said.
The cyclone killed more than 78,000 people and left another 56,000 missing in the impoverished country.