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351 dead after cyclone hits Myanmar

More than 350 people have died and thousands of homes destroyed in the cyclone that knocked out power in the country's commercial capital.

world Updated: May 05, 2008 04:21 IST

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 on Sunday.

Military-run Myaddy television station said five regions had been declared disaster zones following Saturday's storm, which packed winds of up to 190 kilometres per hour.

It said at least 351 people were killed by Tropical Cyclone Nargis, including 162 who lived on Haing Gyi island off the country's southwest coast. Many of the others died in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

Seventy-five per cent of the buildings in the Irrawaddy's Labutta township had collapsed, it said.

"The Irrawaddy delta was hit extremely hard, not only because of the wind and rain but because of the storm surge," said Chris Kaye, the UN's acting humanitarian coordinator in Yangon.

The meteorological bureau had forecast the cyclone would cause tides to rise as much as 3.7 metres above normal levels, although no details of the actual rise were available on Sunday.

Kaye said the government told him earlier in the day that thousands of homes were destroyed.

The UN tried to send teams to assess the damage on Sunday, but their efforts were hampered by roads clogged with debris and phone lines that were down. They would try again on Monday, Kaye said.

He said he didn't know any more because communications had been so spotty since the storm.

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