Specialists in shelter and water sanitation likely to be first engineers to help victims of typhoon

UK engineers have been placed on standby to help aid agencies in Burma after it was announced that international help will be allowed in the stricken country.

RedR, the industry’s disaster relief body, said it has been contacted by agencies including Save the Children to provide expert help in the region, which was torn apart by Cyclone Nargis four weeks ago. Shelter and water sanitation are high priorities, with the UN estimating that one in three people in the most need have not received any aid.

RedR said that so far the main demand had been for logistics specialists, although it had a number of engineers on standby.

RedR chief executive Martin McCann said: “Now relief workers are allowed into Burma, we should see far more requests for aid workers of various disciplines coming in”.

Civil engineer Bill Ixer, who is a RedR member, is one of those waiting to be deployed. He said he was well aware of the challenges ahead. “Many of the wells are flooded with sea water and there will be dead animals in the water supply.  We will probably have to dig new wells.”

The cyclone has led to an estimated 134,000 people being killed or missing and 2.5 million homeless.