The disaster is compelling one of the world's most secretive and isolated regimes to swing open its doors to the international community. At a meeting with foreign diplomats on Monday, Burma's foreign minister Nyan Win appealed for international aid – a dramatic political reversal from 2004, when the junta rejected such assistance after the devastating tsunami.
At least one planeload containing nine tons of relief supplies was reported to have landed in Rangoon, the former capital, Tuesday, flown in by the Thai military. Thailand also said it would make available $100,000 in emergency funds, the Bangkok Post reported.
But as of Tuesday, international relief groups were still awaiting final confirmation from Burma's government that their workers and supplies would be allowed in.
"[International relief groups] don't yet have clarification. Insofar as the Myanmar authorities are interested in getting aid, we will of course facilitate international relief workers, although it's not clear how many," says Mr. Lom.
A worsening portrait of ruin has emerged in the wake of the cyclone, which ripped through Burma's central coast on Saturday, packing 120 mile-per-hour winds that flattened shantytowns and 12-foot tidal waves that swept away entire villages in low-lying coastal areas. Eight townships were reported as completely destroyed.
Even before the cyclone hit, the Irrawaddy River delta southwest of Rangoon was known as a swampy landscape of poor farmers and fishermen with flimsy homes. The area, one of the least developed in southeast Asia, lacks dykes or other barriers to protect people from sea surges.
Mr. Myint, of the NLD, said he spoke by satellite phone with another party member who went to the devastated Irrawaddy delta area to search for family members.