Nearly 4,000 people were dead and thousands more were missing as the reported death toll rose from the devastating cyclone in Myanmar, state television said Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of people were reported to be homeless and food and water were running short after the cyclone hit early Saturday, ripping the roofs off of urban buildings and obliterating villages. "The confirmed number is 3,934 dead, 41 injured and 2,879 missing within the Yangon and Irrawaddy divisions," the government broadcast said.
With roads blocked and power and telephone lines down, the scope of the disaster was slowly emerging after an initial report of just 351 dead.
"What is clear is that we are dealing with a major emergency situation and the priority needs now are shelter and clean drinking water," said Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the United Nations disaster response office in Bangkok.
Despite the devastation in the main city of Yangon and through the Irrawaddy River delta, the government asserted that it would proceed with a constitutional referendum Saturday that is intended to formalize the military's grip on power. The junta that rules the former Burma has closed the country off from the outside world and maintained its grip on power through force while driving it deeper into poverty through economic mismanagement.
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