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Wednesday, May 7

Burma Update

Not to be a buzzkill on this fine spring day or anything, but here's the latest from Burma:

Burma death toll 'likely to hit 80,000'
"... Kyi Minn is health adviser for World Vision in Burma and he says that on top of the 22,000 the military regime has admitted have died, there are another 60,000 missing - presumed dead.

"ABC correspondent Peter Lloyd reports there are also indications that the massive aid effort is being hampered by a lack of organisation and infrastructure in Burma to distribute the urgently needed supplies. The storm happened at the weekend, but the military junta's slowness to let international aid agencies in has meant that many devastated areas have still seen no help."

"It looks like the end of the world here"
"... It looks like the end of the world here," he shouted into the telephone when he finally got a call through to Singapore on Tuesday morning and could talk about the situation in Rangoon after Cyclone Nargis wreaked havoc on the city. "Everything is destroyed, we have no drinking water and nothing to eat. Tens of thousands must be dead. Hundreds of thousands are homeless."

"And what is the government doing in response?

"They're clearing the streets in the rich neighborhoods," the dissident said. Then the line went dead..."

Burma given two days' cyclone warning... and the military junta did nothing...
"... The Burmese junta last night threw a roadblock in the path of the biggest regional rescue operation since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, as the toll from Cyclone Nargis rose to 22,500 dead with a further 41,000 people missing.

The scale of the disaster in the military-ruled Southeast Asian nation had drawn a rare acceptance of outside help from the diplomatically isolated generals, who spurned such approaches after the 2004 tsunami that killed 220,000 people in the region.

But last night, Social Welfare Minister Maung Maung Swe said foreign aid teams wanting to enter the country to help with the relief effort would have to negotiate with the regime to be granted access. "For expert teams from overseas to come here, they have to negotiate with the Foreign Ministry and our senior authorities," he said in Rangoon... "

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