Burma today announced 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, Rangoon.
A major international effort is under way to aid some 2.4 million survivors of the natural disaster, the worst in Burma’s modern history.
Today’s update was the first since May 17, when officials said 77,738 had died and 55,917 were missing.
Foreign aid workers, 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 travelling to many remote areas.
After an international outcry over the ruling junta’s sluggish response to the disaster, the government later promised visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to open the delta area to foreign aid workers.
The latest United Nations report said to date 1.3 million people are estimated to have been reached by international aid groups, the Red Cross and UN workers.
A three-party “core group” has been travelling through the delta to assess damage and humanitarian needs.