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Official Death Toll In Burmese Cyclone Disaster Jumps To 78,000

Nearly two weeks after being hit by the deadly cyclone Nargis, Myanmar's state owed television reported on Friday that the official death toll in the disaster has risen to 78,000, almost doubling the previous estimate of 43,000 announced on Wednesday.

The state television also reported that more than 55,000 people were missing and almost 20,000 have been injured in the country's worst ever disaster. The report comes a day before the Burma's military regime is due to take foreign diplomats to tour of the Irrawaddy delta, the worst hit region.

Meanwhile, the country's military regime still continued to block foreign relief experts from entering the country to help in relief operations. The international aid agencies fear that the actual death toll may be close to 1,00,000 and say that the aid supplies have reached only about 10% of the victims so far.

Also on Friday, the Burmese military regime rejected an appeal from Louis Michel, the European Union humanitarian aid commissioner who is currently Burma, to permit foreign relief experts to help in the ongoing relief operations, without giving any reasons.

The EU humanitarian aid commissioner also denied access to the worst hit area of Irrawaddy delta, but was taken to a "rather perfect, organized camp" near Rangoon.

Though Myanmar's military regime accepts the international relief aid, it has imposed strict restrictions on foreign involvement in the cyclone relief efforts despite repeated appeals by the international community.

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