YANGON: More than 1.5 million people are at risk from disease unless a tsunami-like aid effort is mobilised, aid agency Oxfarm warned last night. The warning came as desperate survivors of Cyclone Nargis headed out of Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta in search of food, water and medicine.
Buddhist temples and schools on the outskirts of the storm's trail of destruction are now makeshift refugee centres.
The UN humanitarian agency said in a new assessment that between 1.2m and 1.9m were struggling to survive in the aftermath of the storm that struck eight days ago.
"Given the gravity of the situation including the lack of food and water, some partners have reported fears for security, and violent behaviour in the most severely afflicted areas," the United Nations Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
It said "the number of deaths could range from 63,290 to 101,682, and 220,000 people are reported to be missing".
Myanmar raised the death toll to 28,458 dead and 33,416 missing from the storm on the night of May 2 and early on May 3. Most of the victims were killed by the 3.5 metre wall of sea-water that hit the delta along with the Category 4 cyclone's 190kph winds.
The pace of aid deliveries into Myanmar picked up, but as thousands of starving cyclone survivors turned out on roads to beg for food and water.
Elsewhere, corpses still lay rotting in waterways, jostling against the bloated carcasses of buffaloes and other livestock, as children scavenged for fish in polluted canals.
Australia responded to a UN appeal for $187 million (BD71m) in aid by dramatically increasing its contribution to $23.4m .
The UN World Food Programme said it has begun moving aid to its field headquarters in Labutta using trucks provided by its partners in Myanmar, including the Myanmar Red Cross. The agency said its food shipments had been briefly impounded on Friday at Yangon airport.
France is set to deliver 1,500 tonnes of rice aid aboard the warship Mistral, which would arrive in Myanmar's waters in the middle of this week, the French foreign ministry said.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that France would not consider entrusting aid to the Myanmar authorities.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband accused Myanmar's ruling generals of "malign neglect", warning the aftermath of its cyclone was a "catastrophe of genuinely epic proportions"
l The EU urged Myanmar's military rulers to allow more relief workers into the country to help the cyclone victims.