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Junta: Myanmar warned before cyclone

  • Story Highlights
  • Myanmar defense minister says govt broadcast warnings before deadly cyclone
  • Says relief phase of disaster already over, country has entered reconstruction
  • Donor nations disagree, have insisted that immediate relief needs yet to be met
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(CNN) -- Myanmar's defense minister said Sunday his government broadcast warnings before a deadly cyclone hit the country last month -- and it has acted promptly since then in providing relief.

A girl prepares food at her family's temporary shelter in Twantay, Myanmar, near Yangon.

Major General Aye Mint told an international security conference in Singapore that military rulers broadcast warnings more than a week before Cyclone Nargis made landfall on May 2.

"The government warned the general public about the cyclone and storm through newspapers, radio and television since 24th of April," he said.

The minister once again reiterated Myanmar's position that the relief phase of the disaster is already over and the country has entered the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase.

Donor nations have insisted that immediate relief needs have yet to be met, with the United Nations saying it will take at least another six months.

"As we have carried out considerable efforts in emergency search and rescue task, we are now emphasizing on the second phase," Mint said. "Works in this phase include rebuilding homes and reconstruction of the villages for local people hit by the storm."

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About 130,000 people either died or are still missing since the cyclone struck. Myanmar's government has put the death toll at 78,000.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon guided a conference of 52 donor nations in Myanmar on May 25. At the meeting, countries pledged in excess of $100 million to help Myanmar recover -- and said they are willing to open up their wallets further once aid groups are granted access to the worst-affected areas.

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