Burma's junta on Saturday came under renewed international pressure from rights groups and the United States defence chief, who said its slow response to the cyclone disaster had cost "tens of thousands of lives". US Defence Secretary Robert Gates criticised the delay in allowing in foreign aid, saying US ships could have swiftly brought relief.
The United States sent its first aid flight to Burma on Monday, but experts warned the relief effort was floundering and 1,5-million cyclone survivors were at grave risk from hunger and disease. The US military transport plane laden with emergency supplies was permitted to land by the ruling junta.
Burma said on Monday that nearly 4Â 000 people had been killed in the cyclone that tore into the impoverished and secretive Asian nation at the weekend, and that tens of thousands more could also be dead. The announcement on state television increased the death toll from Tropical Cyclone Nargis more than ten-fold.