.+ [ Cyclone Nargis Burma: '10,000 dead' ] +.
The death toll from the Burma cyclone is more than 10,000 people,
the foreign ministry said on Monday - the most deadly natural
diaster in the country's recent history.
said a diplomat who attended the foreign ministry briefing.
The provisional death toll was about 10,000 with 3,000 missing,
Survivors faced their third night without electricity
and thousands of downed trees clogged roads,
making organised relief almost impossible.
People in Rangoon are queuing for drinking water
Diplomats were summoned to a government briefing Monday,
where the Burmese junta issued a rare appeal for international
assistance. The first planeload of Thai aid was due to leave
Bangkok on Tuesday morning..
A state of emergency was declared across much of the country
following the 10-hour storm that left swathes of destruction in its wake.
The staggering death toll would make the cyclone the deadliest
natural disaster to hit Burma in recent history, according to figures
compiled by a United Nations-funded disaster database.
The official toll on state media stood at 3,394 dead and 2,879
missing as of Tuesday morning, although those figures only cover
two of the five declared disaster zones, where UN officials say
hundreds of thousands are without shelter or drinking water.
The Thai government confirmed the Burmese junta had already
requested food, medical supplies and construction equipment.
There have been angry charges of total incompetence by
the Burmese government, leading to the high death toll.
The first lady of the United States, Laura Bush, said Monday,
"Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state run media
failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path,"
Bush said, using the country's historical name.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement
he was "deeply saddened by the loss of life and the destruction
suffered by the people" of Burma and pledged to mobilise international
aid and assistance as needed.
A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is
on stand-by to assist the government in responding to humanitarian
needs if required, the statement said.
Laura Bush said there will be a "substantial" amount more
if Myanmar's ruling military junta agreed to accept US help.
"I'm worried that they won't even accept US aid," she said. "
And I urge the government to accept aid from the United States
and from the entire international community right now
while the needs of their people are so critical."
The US Embassy in Rangoon has issued a "disaster declaration"
in the country and authorised the release of $250,000 for cyclone
relief efforts, Deputy State Department spokesman
Tom Casey said Monday.
A disaster relief team is standing by, Casey said,
but the Burmese government had not given permission
for the team to enter the country.
Bush said the regime's response to the Cyclone Nargis coupled
with the regime's repressive policies and economic mismanagement
of the country showed the ineptitude of its leaders and the need
of the international community to pressure the government
for democratic change.
"The response to the cyclone is just the most recent example
of the junta's failure to meet its people's basic needs," Bush said,
accusing the junta of squandering the nation's natural resources
for their won benefit.
Relief agencies met at the United Nations' Bangkok headquarters
Monday to coordinate their response to the disaster.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies said it had released 200,000 Swiss Francs (about $190,000)
to help with the aftermath.
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