Asian Nation Crippled by Cyclone

By: 23 Storm Team/CBS
By: 23 Storm Team/CBS

United Nations and private aid agencies on Monday rushed to prepare assistance for victims of a devastating cyclone in Myanmar, awaiting a government go-ahead to enter the country.

In Myanmar, local media said nearly 4,000 people died in Saturday's storm, but the country's foreign minister predicted that the death toll could reach more than 10,000.

Government officials indicated willingness to accept aid, but details about how the aid is to be delivered need to be worked out first, said a
spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

Relief agency representatives met in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, as well as the regional coordination center in Bangkok, Thailand, to assess the damage and prepare supplies.

A UN official in Myanmar said hundreds of thousands of people urgently need drinking water and shelter.

The International Red Cross said the national Red Cross Society was already distributing supplies.

International leaders like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have expressed alarm over the rising casualties.

The U.S. embassy in the Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, is immediately providing $250,000 in aid from an existing emergency fund to humanitarian organizations working on the ground, according to First Lady Laura Bush.

The European Union said it was providing $3,000,000 million in urgent humanitarian aid for the cyclone victims.

The World Food Program and the U.N. Children's Fund are also providing assistance, as well as individual countries.

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