Toll in Burma can be six times more than Boxing Day tsunami

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London, May 12 : International aid agency OXFAM has warned that the death toll in Burma could reach 1.5 million, and said that the toll would be six times that of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.

The charity estimates at least 100, 000 people were killed by Cyclone Nargis and say outbreaks of dysentery and cholera now threaten the lives of a further 1.4 million people if adequate aid does not reach the stricken areas.

Sara Ireland, Oxfam's regional director for East Asia, said that 1.5 million people were at risk unless a tsunami-like aid effort is mobilised.

"In the Boxing Day tsunami, 250,000 people lost their lives in the first few hours, but we did not see an outbreak of disease because the host governments and the world mobilised a massive aid effort to prevent it from happening. We have to do the same for the people of Myanmar," she added.

Nine days after the cyclone hit the Irrawaddy Delta, the military government is still delaying aid agencies, Scotsman.com.news reported.

Although some assistance is finally beginning to trickle through, non-govermental organisations (NGOs) fear the effect of outbreaks of dysentery and cholera, water-borne diseases that often follow a week to 10 days after an initial disaster.

In a further blow, a cargo ship carrying relief supplies for more than 1,000 survivors sank yesterday after hitting a submerged tree trunk while travelling from Rangoon to Mawlamyinegyun.

Meanwhile, the British Government blamed the "malign neglect" of the Burmese regime for turning the disaster into a "humanitarian catastrophe of genuinely epic proportions".

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband criticised the Burmese government who are insisting on distributing aid themselves and preventing large numbers of humanitarian personnel from entering Burma.

"A natural disaster is turning into a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions in significant part because of the malign neglect of the regime," he said.

ANI

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