'Myanmar approved 1,500 visas for foreign aid workers'

Myanmar's military regime has approved visas for more than 1,500 international aid workers to help victims of Cyclone Nargis, with half of them involved in relief operations in storm-hit regions, the state-media said Tuesday. Foreign aid staffers were initially barred from cyclone-affected areas and the ruling junta was criticized for its sluggish response to the May 2-3 disaster, which killed 84,500 people and left nearly 54,000 missing. During a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in late May, the government agreed to allow foreign aid workers into the Irrawaddy delta, though it placed restrictions on their movements. The ruling junta also formed a group made up of the government, United Nations and Southeast Asian countries to monitor and facilitate the flow of international assistance.