THERE were three developments in the Myanmar cyclone crisis yesterday. The government more than doubled its official death toll to 78'000 (UK experts say it is nearer 216'000), it declared that the first phase of recovery from the emergency is now over and expelled the few foreign aid workers from the worst hit areas, and it promised diplomats in Rangoon that a visit would soon be organised for them to the Irrawaddy Delta. It did not, however, change its refusal to permit trained emergency-relief specialists from the UN, the international community and charities to enter the disaster areas in order to ensure that priority needs are being met and aid supplies used most effectively. The UN and Red Cross will have dismissed with a weary shrug of the shoulders the government's claim that the first phase of the emergency is over - their joint estimate is that between 1.6 and 2.5 million people are still in urgent need of water, food and shelter.

Oh yes! There was a fourth development in Myanmar; the regime announced that 92 per cent of voters had approved the new constitution in last weekend's referendum. It said nothing about the fact that huge numbers of people were unable to vote because of the cyclone. The cynicism and callousness of the junta shows no sign of easing despite the huge pressure from the international community and the impending arrival of the UN Secretary General's special envoy this weekend.