At least 15,000 people were killed in the Myanmar cyclone and the toll was likely to rise as officials made contact with the worst-hit areas, the military government's foreign minister said Tuesday. Foreign Minister Nyan Win said on state television that 10,000 people had died in just one town, Bogalay, as he gave the first detailed account of what is emerging as the worst cyclone to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people were killed in Bangladesh.
"In Irrawaddy Division the death toll amounts to more than 10,000," he said in a state television broadcast, in which he also said the military government welcomed outside assistance, an unprecedented green light to governments and aid agencies who want to help with the recovery.
In the biggest city, Yangon, people were lining up to share bottled water and there was still no electricity, four days after Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck the Irrawaddy delta, rice bowl for the country's 53 million people. "Generators are selling very well under the generals," said one man waiting outside a shop, reflecting some of the resentment on the streets to what many described as a slow warning and response to the cyclone.
Very few soldiers were seen clearing debris and trees, except at major intersections, residents in the former capital said. Monks and residents cut through trees, using what tools they had.