Lag in Aid Threatens Thousands

YANGON, Myanmar -- Desperate survivors of Cyclone Nargis poured out of Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta on Sunday in search of food, water and medicine but aid workers said thousands would die if emergency supplies do not get through soon.

Buddhist temples and schools in towns on the outskirts of the storm's trail are now makeshift refugee centers for women, children and the elderly -- some of the 1.5 million people left clinging to survival.

The military government is accepting aid from outside, including the United Nations, but will not let in the foreign logistics teams needed to transport the aid as fast as possible into the delta.

In the town of Labutta, where 80 percent of homes were destroyed, the authorities were providing just one cup of rice per family per day, a European Commission aid official said.

The scenes are the same across the delta, the former "Rice Bowl of Asia" where as many as 100,000 people are feared dead in the worst cyclone to hit the continent since 1991.

"We have 900 people here but we only have 300 lunch boxes," one woman said at a relief centre in the town of Myaung Mya, 100 kilometers west of Yangon.

"More are coming every day," she said.

The lives of 1.5 million people are at risk due to disease outbreaks unless an aid effort is mobilized, international agency Oxfam said Sunday.