ON THE PYAPON RIVER, Burma - As the bloated bodies rise and fall with the current, women scrub clothes along the riverbank, villagers bathe to cool themselves and a lone child sits on a dock staring aimlessly into the water.
But with little aid getting through to desperate cyclone survivors, the dead have largely been forgotten - left to decay where the brackish waters carried them or waiting to be pulled out to sea by the rising tides.
"The first few we saw, we were all very shocked," said U Pinyatale, a monk from the area who has prayed for the dead. "After a while, there were just too many."
More than 50 bodies can be spotted in just three hours on the river. Many have turned white as they float entwined in mangrove trees, where they remain lodged. The smell of dead fish permeates the humid air as dozens of small boats ferrying roofing supplies and rice navigate around the corpses, but no one seems to notice.
"In some areas there are 5,000 bodies in waterways, stuck in fields and in the trees," said Craig Strathern, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Rangoon, Burma's biggest city. "We've got a combination of seriously traumatized people themselves who are concentrating on their basic survival."
Cyclone Nargis left nearly 62,000 people dead or missing. The UN estimates at least 1.5 million have been severely affected in the military-run country, with many of them still struggling to receive rations of food and clean water.
Body removal remains difficult because some of the worst-hit areas are in remote villages crisscrossed by a spider web of rivers and canals. Another big setback revolves around the ruling junta's refusal to open the door to international aid workers, forcing agencies operating in Burma to rely on their limited local staff members for all relief work.