Tuesday, December 28, 2004


40,000 and Rising

The death toll from epic tidal waves that rocked 11 countries rose to 40,000 people after Sri Lanka and Indonesia significantly increased their confirmed deaths.

Medical supplies, food aid and water purification systems poured into the region, part of what the UN said would be the biggest relief effort the world has ever seen.

Rescuers struggled to reach remote locations where thousands more were likely killed by the deadliest tsunami in 120 years. Bodies, many of them children, filled beaches and choked hospital morgues, raising fears of disease across the region.

Sri Lanka raised its death toll past 18,700. In Indonesia, the country closest to Sunday's 9.0 magnitude quake that sent walls of water crashing into coastlines thousands of miles away, the count rose to 15,000, a number the vice president said could rise further.

"Thousands of victims cannot be reached in some isolated and remote areas," said Purnomo Sidik, the national disaster director.

Some 4,400 died in India and 1,000 perished in Thailand. The Red Cross said malaria and cholera could add to the toll.

Desperate residents on Indonesia's Sumatra Island - 100 miles from the quake's epicentre - looted stores. "There is no help, it is each person for themselves here," district official Tengku Zulkarnain said.

The disaster could be the costliest in history, with "many billions of dollars" of damage, said UN Under-secretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination. Hundreds of thousands lost all they owned, he said.

In Galle, Sri Lanka, officials used a loudspeaker on a fire engine to tell residents to place bodies on the road for collection.

Muslim families used cooking utensils and even their bare hands to dig graves. Hindus in India, abandoning their tradition of burning bodies, held mass burials. Soldiers and volunteers in Indonesia combed through destroyed houses to try to find survivors - or bodies. The toll in Thailand included at least 700 foreign tourists.

Source: This is London

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?