Myanmar Stalling on Allowing Aid Into the Country

They are sleeping on the road, on railroad tracks, on bridges. If they can, they sleep above the water line below which there is nothing left, the line that marks where their lives were swept away.

They stare into television cameras blankly, sitting on mud where their homes used to be. Or they stare from monasteries, the only buildings around with a roof, houses of worship that have become homes to hundreds.

They are the lucky ones , Myanmar's survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which is now set to become the greatest natural disaster since the devastating tsunami of 2004.

For the first time, the top U.S. diplomat in Yangon, the country's largest city, said today the death toll could go as high as 100,000 in the area hit hardest by the storm.

For those who made it through alive, there is hunger, thirst and destruction.

"We have no home left. People are now searching for dead bodies of their family members," one woman told Democratic Voice of Burma, a dissident group based in Norway.

In her home village of Danyingon, only six people survived, she said. "Everybody I saw is crying too much and searching for bodies of love ones. There is a bad smell from dead bodies."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today urged Myanmar to accept foreign aid, something the ruling military junta has been slow to do.

"What remains is for the Burmese government to allow the international community to help its people. It should be a simple matter. It is not a matter of politics" but rather a humanitarian crisis," Rice said.

Washington has urged Myanmar's neighbors to use whatever leverage they have to convince the government to allow aid shipments and relief teams into the country, Rice said.

The State Department has spoken with China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand about pressuring Myanmar to accept aid, spokesman Sean McCormick said.

The U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team is in Bangkok and has applied for visas to enter Myanmar, according to USAID sources, but they have not yet been granted.

The first pictures of the survivors' conditions show just how powerful Nargis' 120 mph winds were and how long-lasting its effects will be. More than 25 million people lived in the cyclone's path and anywhere from 1 million to 2 million of them are now homeless, according to the United Nations.

The Myanmar government says 70,000 people are dead or missing, U.S. charge d'affairs Shari Villarosa in Yangon said she has heard from relief organizations in the delta area that the death toll could reach 100,000.

"The information that we're receiving indicates that there may well be over 100,000 deaths in the delta area," Villarosa said. She added, "This is an estimate of what the death toll can reach, this is not a confirmed figure."

Villarosa said the Myanmar junta has estimated that 95 percent of houses in the Irrawaddy Delta have been destroyed, and that seawater and dead bodies have contaminated the area's drinking water.

One of the government's great fears now is that cholera could develop.

It's a situation that Villarosa said was "increasingly horrendous."

"One million people are currently in need of shelter and life-saving assistance," Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian affairs office told ABC News in Bangkok. "There are townships in excess of [380 square miles] are completely under water."

The water that has inundated the region is undrinkable salt water, adding to their desperate misery.

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