The Myanmar military junta's delay in allowing international aid into the cyclone-hit country cost "tens of thousands of lives," US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday. Speaking at a top-level security conference here, Gates said US ships could have quickly delivered much needed aid to Myanmar in the aftermath of the May 2-3 storm that left 133,000 people dead or missing. "Our ships and aircraft awaited country approval so they could act promptly to save thousands of lives -- approval of the kind granted by Indonesia immediately after the 2004 tsunami and by Bangladesh after a fierce cyclone just last November," Gates told the regional forum."With Burma, the situation has been very different -- at a cost of tens of thousands of lives."