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About 90 dead from earthquake in Myanmar

AP, 28 December 2004

YANGON, Myanmar - About 90 people were killed as tidal waves struck Myanmar's southern coastal and delta regions and the death toll is expected to increase, according to reports compiled by international aid agencies Tuesday.

Aid sources, who requested anonymity, said that according to information collected by agency workers at the scene most of the victims died in the Tanintharyi Division and the vast delta of the Ayeyarwaddy River.

The two areas are situated along Myanmar's 2,276-kilometer (1,414-mile) coastline, sections of which were struck Sunday by tidal waves from a massive earthquake originating off Indonesia's coast.

About 23,000 people are reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast.

Official newspapers, which initially remained silent on casualties and damage, Tuesday reported that 34 people were killed in Myanmar, 45 injured and 25 were missing while 200 people were made homeless.

The government has said that the quake affected several parts of the country, destroying 17 coastal villages and damaging some buildings. Relief and resettlement was being carried out, it announced without elaboration.

Myanmar's secretive, military regime rarely provides details of man-made or natural disasters and rigorously censors all media.

The sources said the death toll would rise. No casualties have yet been reported from such affected areas as Myanmar's western Rakhine coast.

"We haven't received any official request for relief efforts from the government yet, but we will be willing to provide any assistance necessary," said Carol Long, who heads the U.N. Children's Fund in Myanmar.

UNICEF said it was concerned about possible water contamination in the southernmost area of the delta.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it also has not been asked to assist but was working with the Myanmar Red Cross and U.N. agencies to best meet needs of victims.



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