Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 16:06 UK

First US aid plane lands in Burma

Cyclone survivors reach out for food aid on outskirts of Rangoon, 12 May 2008
Aid agencies have warned that deliveries need to speed up

The first US aid flight to Burma following the devastating cyclone nine days ago has landed in Rangoon.

The US spent days negotiating with Burma's military government to gain permission for the aircraft to land.

The junta has admitted that parts of the worst-affected region remain cut-off, but the generals are still refusing entry to foreign aid workers.

The official death toll has risen to almost 32,000, with close to another 30,000 missing.

But aid agencies fear 1.5m could die if help does not come, and estimate that 100,000 have already perished.

An official from Save the Children in Burma told the BBC that about half the people affected by the cyclone were receiving help.

Nine days after Cyclone Nargis struck Burma's low-lying Irrawaddy Delta region, survivors are beginning to gather in makeshift camps around the edges of the disaster zone.

The UN, which has launched a $187m (96m) appeal for aid, says people urgently need food, water, shelter and medical aid.

Many victims are said to be dehydrated or suffering from injuries that have not been treated.


US transport plane in Rangoon

An Associated Press reporter in the delta region described how more than 50 bodies could be seen in three hours on the river.

"Many have turned white as they float entwined in mangrove trees," the report said.

Fresh video footage has emerged that shows the extent of the suffering, including the corpses of children lined up in a makeshift morgue.

There are some signs, however, that Burma's military leaders may be relaxing their stance on accepting foreign aid.

Besides the US plane, aircraft from relief agencies Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Medecins du Monde (MDM) arrived in the country on Monday, with a total of 56 tons of medicines and other supplies.

MSF said three more of its planes were expected to arrive on Monday and Tuesday.

'Not enough'

A number of other flights arrived over the weekend and some supplies reached Burma by land.

But many foreign experts are still waiting for visas to enter the country and on Sunday, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) said that the amount of aid getting to victims was "nowhere near the scale required".

The US military says about 11,000 servicemen and four ships are in the region for a military exercise and could be harnessed to help.

The junta insists that foreign aid is acceptable but foreign aid workers are not.

Detail from Nasa satellite images

It has said local organisations can deliver aid, while acknowledging that some areas are cut off by flood waters.

Nor has the generals' tight control on the media relaxed.

The BBC's Asia bureau editor Paul Danahar was deported from Rangoon over the weekend after a week of reporting.

Meanwhile, aid agencies are warning of serious logistical hurdles getting supplies to affected areas.

Roads and bridges have been washed away, and heavy rain is forecast for the coming week, further complicating relief efforts.

On Sunday, a Red Cross boat carrying rice and drinking water for 1,000 people in Bogalay town hit a submerged tree and sank.

Michael Annear, the IFRC's disaster manager in Rangoon, described the sinking as "a big blow".

The European Union is to hold an emergency meeting on getting aid to Burma on Tuesday - while Asean (the Association of South-East Asian Nations) says it will discuss the issue next Monday.


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