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Thai PM to Carry International Appeals to Burma as Cyclone Death Toll Climbs


Thailand's government says its prime minister will travel to Burma Wednesday to deliver appeals from the international community to accept more international disaster assistance.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej agreed to requests from the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United States to act as a go-between with its neighbor.

The White House says President George Bush and China's President Hu Jintao on Tuesday discussed the U.S. willingness to provide more aid to Burma.

The United Nations warned Tuesday of a second catastrophe in Burma unless the military government there allows massive air and sea deliveries of aid to cyclone victims. A spokeswoman for the U.N. Organization for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, Elizabeth Byrs said tens of thousands of survivors from last week's storm could die because they are not getting emergency aid.

In a separate development, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations announced Tuesday that it will send a disaster assessment team to Burma in the next 48 hours. Southeast Asian foreign ministers will meet in Singapore next week to discuss humanitarian assistance to Burma.

Burma announced Tuesday that the death toll from Cyclone Nargis has passed 34,000. The United Nations estimates the death toll could be as high as 100,000.

Also Tuesday, the European Commission announced that Burma has agreed to let the European Union's top aid official, Louis Michel, enter the country to seek better access for international aid workers and relief supplies.

The first U.S. aid flight to Burma arrived Monday, and a second flight arrived Tuesday. But a White House spokeswoman said the amount of aid getting through is, in her words, "a drop in the bucket" (a very tiny amount) compared to what is needed. A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said a U.S. ship is waiting in international waters, off the Burmese coast, with 14,000 containers of fresh water to deliver.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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