Boat carrying aid for Myanmar cyclone victims sinks

May 11, 2008 21:28

Myanmar's monumental task of feeding and sheltering 1.5 million cyclone survivors suffered yet another blow Sunday when a boat laden with relief supplies - one of the first international shipments - sank on its way to the disaster zone. The death toll jumped to nearly 29,000 amid warnings that "malign neglect" by the military rulers, who have ruled the isolated nation with an iron fist for more than five decades, was creating a "humanitarian catastrophe of genuinely epic proportions." The junta has been sharply criticized for its handling of the May 3 disaster, from failing to provide adequate warnings about the pending storm to responding slowly to offers of help. Though international assistance has started trickling in, the few foreign relief workers who have been allowed entry into Myanmar have been restricted to the largest city of Yangon. Only a handful have succeeded in getting past checkpoints into the worst-affected areas.

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