Official cyclone toll tops 138,000 dead and missing

Jun 25, 2008 (AFP)‚ More than 84,000 people died in last month’s deadly cyclone, while nearly 54,000 were still missing, a Burmese official said on Tuesday, raising the government’s estimate of the casualties.

Deputy foreign minister Kyaw Thu told a meeting of officials from the government, the United Nations and Southeast Asian countries that 84,537 were killed and 53,836 missing.

Some 20,000 people were also injured when the storm pounded the country on 2-3 May, Kyaw Thu said.

The officials were meeting in Rangoon to discuss the findings of a 250-member assessment team, which includes UN aid experts and relief workers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

After weeks of delays, the team was allowed to enter the hardest-hit parts of the Irrawaddy delta on 5 June.

The United Nations estimates that 2.4 million people need humanitarian aid in the wake of the storm, but restrictions imposed by the military regime have slowed delivery of the assistance.

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