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Over 240 dead after Myanmar cyclone

MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti) - Over 240 people are reported dead after a tropical cyclone hit Myanmar on Saturday, national media said on Sunday.

Authorities in Myanmar introduced a state of emergency in five regions as the Nargis cyclone struck, with wind speeds reaching some 190 km/h (118 mph). Most of the deaths came in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

The majority of the Southeast Asian country's largest city, Yangon, was left without electricity, and its streets were filled with overturned cars, parts of trees and other debris. Telephone and Internet communications were also severely disrupted.

Several towns around Yangon were also flooded.

Nargis is reported to be moving toward neighboring Thailand. Rescue work is underway in the areas it left devastated.

A referendum is due in Myanmar on May 10 on the country's military-backed draft constitution, supposedly to be followed in 2010 by a general election.

Myanmar's ruling junta seized power in 1988, and although a general election was subsequently held in 1990, the military authorities refused to honor the results when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party won.

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