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UN Helicopters Reach Cyclone-Hit Villages in Burma

U.N. helicopters are delivering aid to Burma's Irrawaddy Delta Monday for the first time, bringing supplies to people struggling to survive since Cyclone Nargis devastated the region May 3.

A World Food Program spokesman said boats have been delivering some aid to villages cut off by flooding, but helicopters are much more efficient. He said the U.N. is sending four more helicopters to Burma this week, bringing the total to 10.

He said aid will have reached 26 villages by the end of the day Tuesday. The United Nations estimates some one million people affected by the cyclone are still in need of aid.

Amnesty International says Burma's military government has been evicting some cyclone survivors from their temporary shelters and forcing them back to their homes, even if the dwellings were destroyed. It also has reported instances of the military forcing people to work for food aid.

Burma's official New Light of Myanmar newspaper denied those charges on Saturday. An editorial blamed foreign media for, what it called, "tarnishing the image of the nation."

On Sunday, the state-run newspaper said Prime Minister Thein Sein has ordered that tents be set up for cyclone survivors returning to their homes from refugee centers, and that the homeless be provided with a one week supply of food.

The paper said cyclone survivors are being allowed to return to their home villages voluntarily, but only if they have enough food, water and shelter to survive.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.