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Russia sends first plane with humanitarian aid to Myanmar

RIA Novosti

09/05/2008 19:46 MOSCOW, May 9 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Il-76 airplane from the emergencies ministry's fleet left on Friday from an airfield near Moscow with humanitarian aid to Myanmar, an emergencies spokesperson said.

The Southeast Asian country attempts to recover from a cyclone that, according to official data, has left over 20,000 people dead and dozens of thousands homeless.

"The plane took off from the Zhukovski airfield near Moscow at 16.40 Moscow time (12.40 GMT)," the spokesman said. "It has a humanitarian cargo on board to assist cyclone-hit Myanmar.

Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar on Saturday, devastating large parts of the country. Health official fear that the death toll is likely to rise to at least 100,000 people as rescue workers struggle to reach remote settlements, while the nationwide number of displaced people could reach millions.

The humanitarian aid will be delivered to Myanmar's largest city of Yangon.

The second plane with humanitarian aid to Myanmar is scheduled to depart from Russia on Sunday, May 11.

Both planes will deliver a total of 60 metric tons of humanitarian supplies, including tents, blankets, generators, medical supplies, including disinfectants and bandages, and food.

A state of emergency has been introduced in the five worst-hit areas - the Irrawaddy delta, the cities of Yangon and Pegu, and the states of Karen and Mon. Most of the deaths came in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta region.

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