Myanmar’s ruling junta, which has spurned the international community for decades, appealed for disaster relief yesterday as a cabinet minister warned that more than 10,000 people may have died in a devastating weekend cyclone, diplomats and state media said.
A state radio station reported the official death toll from cyclone Nargis had soared to 3,939, and that some 3,000 people were missing in one coastal town.
Foreign Minister Nyan Win told Yangon-based diplomats that the death toll could rise to more than 10,000 in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta, where the storm wreaked the most havoc, according to Asian diplomats at the meeting.
The situation in the countryside remained unclear because of poor communications and roads left impassable by the cyclone, which is the term used to describe hurricanes in much of the Pacific and Indian Ocean. Many rural buildings are constructed of thatch, bamboo and other materials easily destroyed by fierce storms.
Diplomats said they were told Myanmar welcomed international humanitarian aid, including urgently needed roofing materials, medicine, water purifying tablets and mosquito nets. The first shipment of nine tonnes was scheduled to arrive from Thailand today.