Official death toll in Myanmar cyclone increased to 84,500

Myanmar announced Tuesday that 84,500 people perished in last month's cyclone, up from its earlier toll of 77,700 for the devastating storm that drew international pleas for the insular government to accept outside help. Deputy Foreign Minister Kyaw Thu told reporters that the official toll stood at 84,537 dead, with 53,836 still missing. Cyclone Nargis on May 2-3 cut a swath of destruction through the Irrawaddy river delta and the region around the country's largest city, Yangon. A major international effort is under way to aid some 2.4 million survivors of the natural disaster, the worst in Myanmar's modern history. Tuesday's update was the first since May 17, when officials said 77,738 had died and 55,917 were missing. Foreign aid staffers, initially barred from the delta region, have not yet produced their own estimates of the dead and missing, some of the citing lack of access, personnel and the difficulty of traveling to many remote areas.