Cyclone Death Toll Nears 4,000 in Myanmar, State Radio Says

In this handout photo released by the Democratic Voice of Burma, trees are uprooted as part of the roof are seen falling on the ground after tropical cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, on Sunday May 4, 2008. More than 350 people have died in Myanmar in a powerful cyclone that knocked out power in the impoverished country's commercial capital and destroyed thousands of homes, state-run media said. (AP Photo/Democratic Voice of Burma, HO) ** NO SALES **
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Yangon, Myanmar (AP) State radio in Myanmar says the death toll from a weekend cyclone is nearly 4,000 and the country's foreign minister says it could be more than twice that.

The storm struck the southeast Asian country's southern coast early Saturday with winds up to 120 miles per hour. It swamped low-lying communities in the Irrawaddy River delta and state radio says nearly 3,000 people are unaccounted for in one town alone.

Relief officials say up to 95 percent of houses have been destroyed in some villages and the country is “in dire need of shelter and clean drinking water.” They say the destruction is making it difficult to get aid in and information out.

The state department says the U.S. Embassy in Yangon has authorized a quarter of a million dollars to help with relief efforts. But it also says Myanmar's military rulers initially refused to allow a U.S. Disaster response team into the country to assess damage.

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