The death toll from a devastating cyclone that swept through Myanmar [Burma] has risen to almost 4,000, a state radio station said Monday. Nearly 3,000 were unaccounted for in a single town. [IJ note: Later estimates have more than tripled that figure. Over 15,000 persons are now believed to have died, and many times that number are still missing].
The radio station, broadcasting from the country’s capital Naypyitaw, said that 2,879 more people are unaccounted for in a single town, Bogalay, in the country’s low-lying Irrawaddy River delta area where the storm wreaked the most havoc.
The government had previously put the death toll countrywide from Saturday’s Cyclone Nargis at 351 before increasing it Monday to 3,939.
The storm has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and without clean drinking water, said Richard Horsey, a spokesman in Bangkok, Thailand for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Yangon [Rangoon], the country’s biggest city, was without electricity except where gas-fed generators were available. Many roads remained littered with debris.
Officials from the military government met Monday with representatives of international aid agencies to discuss providing assistance.
Neighboring Thailand announced that it would fly some aid in Tuesday.
The private aid agency World Vision said Myanmar’s government had invited it “to provide assistance in the form of zinc sheets, tents, tarpaulins and medicine.”
“The agency is coordinating with authorities to explore an airlift of emergency supplies into the country from one of its global warehouses,” the group said in a news release.
The situation in the countryside remained unclear because of poor communications and roads left impassable by the storm.
“It’s clear that we’re dealing with a very serious situation. The full extent of the impact and needs will require an extensive on-the-ground assessment,” said Horsey. “What is clear at this point is that there are several hundred thousands of people in dire need of shelter and clean drinking water. The U.N. system is making the necessary preparations to provide what is needed.”
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