Though not (yet) a drop in the bucket as compared to the death toll from the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster of three years ago, the casualty figures from the Myanmar cyclone continue to grow: from 350 to 3000 to 10000 and now to 22,000 dead and 40000+ missing. As for the living, an unknown number are wounded (probably four times the number of dead) and up to one million persons are homeless.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is run by a military dictatorship and had initially refused outside aid. They appear to have changed their minds, but UN officials are still waiting for access into the country.
"The government has shown a certain openness so far," [U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs official Elisabeth] Byrs said. "We hope that we will get the visas as soon as possible, in the coming hours. I think the authorities have understood the seriousness of the situation and that they will act accordingly."Read more about the political situation in the country which, undoubtedly, has been radically altered in the past week.
The appeal for outside assistance was unusual for Myanmar's ruling generals, who have long been suspicious of international organizations and closely controlled their activities. Several agencies, including the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, have limited their presence as a consequence.