Envoys given Myanmar cyclone tour

Military rulers grant rare access, but diplomats say they have not seen enough.

    The UN is now warning that 2.5 million people are facing hunger and disease [AFP]

    "I went to the three locations and there were [a] maximum [of] 250 people at each one," he said.


    "They showed that they can put together the package - there were tents, water, basic supplies."


    An Asian diplomat who went on the tour said they had been shown around by helicopter.


    "The ambassadors themselves looked around the affected Irrawaddy  delta area in the morning hours," he said on condition of anonymity. 


    "It was not good enough to get a clear picture of the damage in the area."


    Mounting pressure


    The international community has been turning up the pressure on the country's military rulers, who have been criticised for holding up visas for foreign disaster experts and insisting on managing the relief effort alone.


    With up to 2.5 million people facing dire shortages of food, water, shelter and medical care, according to international agencies, there have been signs that the military government is easing some constraints on the operation.


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    On Friday, Myanmar state television reported that the death toll from cyclone Nargis has reached 77,738.


    It also reported that another 55,917 peope are missing and 19,359 are injured.

    The military, which has ruled Myanmar since 1962, is deeply suspicious  of the outside world and has appeared to fear anything that could weaken its control.


    But on Saturday, 30 Thai medics flew into the country as part of a group of more than 100 Asian medical workers who the military government is allowing to treat victims of the storm, a Thai health official  said.


    Louis Michel, the European Union's humanitarian aid commissioner, however, said that after two days of talks the military government had refused to open an airport in the Irrawaddy delta to aid flights, currently going to the main city Yangon.


    UN warning

    The UN is warning that 2.5 million people are facing hunger and disease in the wake of the cyclone. 
    But instead of giving out aid, the government is dishing out eviction orders.
    Hundreds of displaced villagers taking refuge at a sports hall in Yangon have been told they must go, an Al Jazeera correspondent on the ground reported.

    Army officers told them they had 24 hours to leave, without explaining why or telling them where they could go.


    The villagers of Shu Li Man say they have nowhere to go and say they will not leave.


    "I know the soldiers will come but we will stay here, whatever happens. There's nothing else we can do," Thain So, the village chief, told Al Jazeera.


    Even in official shelters, food and medicine is scarce.


    More than 16,000 thousand cases of diarrhoea and fever have been reported in Yangon alone.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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