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Myanmar death toll may surpass 100,000

Written by: Staff

Yangon, May 8:The death toll in Myanmar due to devastating Cyclone Nargis may surpass 100,000 while at least 95 per cent of the buildings in the Irrawady Delta region have been destroyed, said a top US diplomat.

The Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Myanmar, Shari Villarosa, said: ''It is an estimate of what deaths may actually reach, primarily in the delta area, the country's key rice-growing region where around five or six million people live. The government cites figures of around six or seven hundred deaths.'' She also said Yangon suffered mainly storm damage, with roofs ripped off buildings and electricity and water cut off. Some water and electricity has been restored and many homes depend on pumps,'' she added. Villarosa warned food like rice was in ''short supply'' and there was a ''real risk'' of disease because of a lack of clean drinking water. UN relief teams were in the country, but were far from enough to deal with the scale of the problem. The consequences of a further delay in bringing relief into the country will mean ''more victims that are created,'' she said. Villarosa said that its military junta was ''paranoid'' about accepting American help.

The US military was putting people and airplanes into position on Wednesday in nearby Thailand. But Myanmar's Government has not accepted the US offer to send aid, US defense and diplomatic officials said. President Bush's National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, called the cyclone a ''humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions.''


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