Red Cross: Up to 128,000 may have died in Myanmar
The Associated Press, May. 14, 2008
The grim forecast came as heavy rains drenched the devastated
"Another couple of days exposed to those conditions can only lead to worsening health conditions and compound the stress people are living in," said Shantha Bloemen, a spokeswoman for UNICEF.
A tropical depression in the
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, however, said its estimate put the number of dead between 68,833 and 127,990. The Geneva-based body said the range came from a compilation based on other estimates from 22 different organizations, including the Myanmar Red Cross Society, and on media reports.
Even though the figures seemed precise, spokesman Matthew Cochrane said they were not based on body counts, but were only rough estimates designed to provide Red Cross donors and partner organizations with an idea of the numbers being discussed within the aid community.
U.N. officials have said there could be more than 100,000 dead.
The Red Cross estimated the number of people needing help after cyclone surged over the low-lying delta on May 3 at between 1.64 million and 2.51 million.
But the junta still refused to accept help from foreign aid experts, who have vast experience in handling humanitarian crises.
"The government has a responsibility to assist their people in the event of a natural disaster," said Amanda Pitt of the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs.
"We are here to do what we can and facilitate their efforts and scale up their response. It is clearly inadequate, and we do not want to see a second wave of deaths as a result of that not being scaled up," she said.
"They have their own team to cope with the situation," Samak said after returning to
But critics say the government is woefully lacking in helicopters, trucks and boats as well as planning expertise needed to distribute aid to survivors, who have jammed into monasteries and relief centers or are camping outside.
U.N. agencies and other voluntary groups have been able to reach only 270,000 of the affected people, said Elisabeth Byrs of r the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs in
She said the World Food Program would need 55,000 tons of rice to feed 750,000 people for three months, but the agency had been able to ship in only 361 tons so far.
The junta did grant approval Wednesday for a Thai medical team to visit the delta, said Dr. Thawat Sutharacha of
The government gave a little ground to demands that it let in more experts. It announced it would allow in 160 relief workers from neighboring countries
"The relief getting through under the kind of restrictions we're operating under is by no means adequate to the task, and it's hard to see how just continuing with the status quo can ever be sufficient in the current critical time period that we're working in," Holmes said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called a meeting of key donors and
"Even though the
He also expressed frustration that he had not been able to arrange direct talks with the junta's chairman, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, despite repeated phone calls and letters.
While it has kept out all but a few foreign aid workers, the regime has accepted tons of provisions sent by international donors, including the United Nations and the
Five U.S. C-130 military transport planes delivered drinking water, blankets, mosquito nets and plastic sheets Wednesday. Lt. Col. Douglas Powell said 197,080 pounds of provisions had been sent in on eight
Adm. Timothy J. Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said he did not get the junta's formal approval for American aid flights when he met with the
"In approving our flight plans, they are giving us permission it is kind of implicit permission," Keating said in an interview with National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program.
The State Department renewed an appeal for the junta to allow in outside disaster relief experts and more assistance. "This is not a political issue. This really is simply a humanitarian issue," said deputy spokesman Tom Casey.
The European Union's top aid official, Development Commissioner Louis Michel, said he was not opposed to the idea of parachuting aid into
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.