Death Toll Rises after Myanmar Cyclone

May 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The foreign minister of Myanmar said the death toll from a cyclone could reach 10,000.Officials said at least 4,000 people are dead and another 3,000 are missing.

In a country controlled by the military, it is hard to get the full picture of devastation, but news is slowly being released. Cyclone Nargis has left hundreds of thousands of people without power, shelter or water. The death toll climbed towards 10,000 on Monday.

But state-run television aired a calm assessment of the damage, saying, "...roofs of houses were stripped, trees and lamposts and some buildings collapsed..."

According to international aid organizations an estimated 24-million people across five disaster zones are in serious danger. Many are asking why the military is not doing more.

The same military that was so quick to arrest hundreds of protesting monks last fall has been slow act now. Former Swedish cabinet minister, Jen Orback, who was present after the destruction said, "What struck me, what I didn't see anybody from the military, anybody from the police, anybody from the fire force, it was monks out with machetes but no military, no police."

But it may have to move fast to import emergency rice supplies. That could drive up prices around the world.

Amidst the devastation, the military is insisting a vote on a new constitution will still take place on May 10th. It promises democratic elections in 2010, but critics say it is just another way for the military to hold on to power.


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