Millions Homeless, But Junta Impedes Cyclone Aid

Relief efforts frustrated depite 50K deaths in Burma
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2008 8:01 AM CDT
A dead body is seen in the Pyarmalot river following Cyclone Nargis, in Labutta town, Ayeyarwaddy province, 168 kilometers (105 miles) southwest of Yangon on Sunday May 4, 2008.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – The death toll from Burma's devastating cyclone continues to rise—foreign aid workers now believe 50,000 have died, and 2 to 3 million are homeless—but the military junta is keeping international agencies from mounting a coordinated relief effort. A flight carrying UN relief aid is in the works, but UN workers cannot get visas, journalists are barred, and no comprehensive survey of the damage is available.

A spokesman for India's meteorological survey told the Times of London that his agency had alerted the Burmese government to the coming storm several days before impact, but the warnings had no impact. Now, frustrated relief workers are faced with a disaster one called "unprecedented in the history of Burma, and on an order of magnitude with the effect of the tsunami on individual countries."