Death toll still rising

YANGON - Myanmar officials said yesterday the death toll could continue to climb higher than the nearly 15000 already feared dead from the Southeast Asian nation's devastating cyclone as the international community prepared to rush in aid.

YANGON - Myanmar officials said yesterday the death toll could continue to climb higher than the nearly 15000 already feared dead from the Southeast Asian nation's devastating cyclone as the international community prepared to rush in aid.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis state radio said the government would now delay a constitutional referendum in areas hit hardest.

Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told a press conference that some 4000 people had died in the Yangon area and in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta, while 10000 people may have perished in the delta township of Bogalay.

Earlier Foreign Minister Nyan Win was quoted by state-run television as saying more than 10000 people had perished in the delta and a smaller number in and around Yangon, the country's largest city.

It was not known why the ministers presented two different death tolls.

"News and data are still being collected, so there may be many more casualties," the minister said.

The UN World Food Programme, which was preparing to fly in food supplies, has offered a grim assessment of the destruction: up to a million people possibly homeless, some villages almost totally destroyed and vast rice-growing areas wiped out. - Sapa-AP

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