First Lady Steps Up for Cyclone Relief

Bush blasts Burmese junta, presses nation to accept US aid
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2008 5:17 PM CDT
In this photo released by Democratic Voice of Burma, a tree falls over a car after tropical cyclone Nargis hit Yangon, Myanmar on Friday May 2, 2008.   (AP Photo/ Democratic voice of Burma)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – First Lady Laura Bush took a rare turn in the spotlight today and pressed Burma to let a US disaster response team into the country, CNN reports. In a press conference, she also slammed the junta for its "failure to meet its people's basic needs" after a cyclone killed more than 10,000 people there.

Meanwhile, the UN and other relief organizations are rushing aid to the beleaguered nation. "I think it's the biggest disaster to hit this country in recent memory," says a spokesman for UNICEF. The UN has made $30 million available to deal with the crisis, and the US $250,000—but Washington has sanctions imposed against Burma and has not yet received permission to help.