THE DEATH TOLL FROM THE MASSIVE TSUNAMIS HAS REACHED 150,000
JAN 3 2005
GOD HAS WRITTEN THAT THERE WILL BE DISASTERS IN THE LAST DAYS !
The United Nations estimated Friday that the death toll from last week's earthquake and tsunamis that devastated parts of Asia was approaching 150,000 as the world's ships and planes converged to deliver desperately needed aid to the region.
"What we see is that the figures may be approaching 150,000 dead. The vast majority of those are in Indonesia . . . ," UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland told reporters in New York.
He added that the final number of dead will never be known.
"We will never ever have the absolute definite figure because there are many fishermen and villages which have just gone and we have no chance of finding out how many they were."
Also on Friday, the United States upped its relief aid tenfold to $350 million US as relief efforts gained momentum. Emphasizing the American role in the emergency, Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed relief efforts at a UN meeting with Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday, before leaving for a weekend visit to the region to assess what more is needed.
The United States, India, Australia, Japan and the UN have formed an international coalition to co-ordinate worldwide relief and reconstruction efforts. The Indian navy, which has already deployed 32 ships and 29 aircraft for tsunami relief and rescue work, was sending two more ships Friday to Indonesia.
Canada is also joining the coalition. Prime Minister Paul Martin committed Canada to the group in a telephone conversation early Friday with U.S. President George W. Bush .
A spokeswoman for Martin said the group will work together to ensure rich countries are not competing against each other in the delivery of aid.
"The task will be quite focused to ensure . . . that all our efforts are complimentary and not competitive," the spokeswoman said.
Ottawa on Friday put its military emergency response team on 48-hour notice to go to Asia as the number of Canadians missing soared to a possible 150.
Five Canadians have been confirmed dead.
Brig.-Gen. Brett Cairns said orders were issued Friday to members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, and people on leave were being recalled.
An American military cargo jet brought blankets, medicine and the first of 80,000 body bags to Banda Aceh, the devastated Indonesian city near the earthquake epicentre. Nine U.S military C-130 transports took off Friday from Utapao, the Thai base used by U.S. B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War, to rush supplies to the stricken resorts of southern Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, said Maj. Larry Redmon in Bangkok.
Other C-130s were sent by Australia and New Zealand, and the Indonesian government said two flights from 18 countries had reached Sumatra by Friday. But bureaucratic delays, impassable roads and long distances were blocking much of the blankets, bottled water, plastic sheeting and medicines from reaching the needy.
Convoys distributed sugar, rice and lentils in Sri Lanka; India dispatched a ship converted into a 50-bed hospital.
In the Andaman islands, a remote southern Indian archipelago, officials and volunteers struggled to deliver tons of rations, clothes, bedsheets, oil, and other items, hampered by lack of transportation.
"There is starvation. People haven't had food or water for at least five days. There are carcasses. There will be an epidemic," said Andaman's member of Parliament, Manoranjan Bhakta.
At popular Phuket resort in Thailand, people pored over photos of the dead and missing. "At this point we hope against hope that they are still alive somewhere," said Canadian tourist Dan Kwan, hunting for his missing parents. He said it was possible they were unconscious or unable to speak.
Forensic teams in Thailand packed bodies in dry ice as the government announced its death toll had doubled to more than 4,500 people, almost half of them vacationing foreigners.
In Sri Lanka, where more than 4,000 people were unaccounted for, TV channels devoted 10 minutes of every hour to reading the names and details of the missing.
Ade Bachtiar, a volunteer nurse from Jakarta, arrived in Banda Aceh on Wednesday to help at a clinic set up in an abandoned souvenir shop.
"Yesterday, we could only stay open for about two hours due to the lack of electricity," he said. Nevertheless, he added, they treated 60 to 80 people, mainly closing and cleaning wounds.
"Medicine is running out, especially antiseptics," he said.
In the Andamans, hundreds of people poured into eight camps in Port Blair, the main town, having walked long distances through dense forests.
One survivor, G. Balan, told of fleeing his village only to reach a crocodile-infested lagoon.
"We realized that there was certain death on this side, so we decided to cross and take the risk," Balan said. "The crocodiles were not looking.
They were busy eating on the shore, where there were many human and animal bodies. It was hide-seek. But we swam across," he said.
"It still gives me a shiver. If they had seen me, they would have caught me by the stomach. They catch the soft part of the body and drag you away."
In the hardest-hit country, Indonesia, the official death toll stood at about 80,000, but officials acknowledged the final number might never be known because the towering tsunami waves swept entire villages out to sea.
Sri Lanka reported about 28,500 deaths and India more than 7,700. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.
Foreigners killed in Asian earthquake and tsunamis
The tally of foreigners confirmed dead from the quake and tsunamis throughout southern Asia, according to their countries' foreign ministries.
Authorities said thousands were still missing, many of them feared dead. Thai authorities said more than 2,230 foreigners from 36 countries were confirmed dead from Thailand's southern resorts alone.
At least one victim was reported to have dual Mexican and U.S. citizenship and it was unclear whether both countries had included him.
-United States: 15
-South Korea: 4
-South Africa: 4
-New Zealand: 1
-Czech Republic: 1
A partial list of the countries pledging aid for tsunami victims totalling nearly $1 billion.
The figures are based on United Nations data published Friday, but they include updates of donation changes from the countries themselves:
-The United States: $350 million.
-Britain: $95 million
-Canada: $80 million.
-Sweden: $75.5 million
-Spain: $68 million
-China: $60 million
-France: $57 million
-Australia: $46.7 million.
-Japan: $30 million.
-Germany: $27 million
-Switzerland: $21.9 million
-Denmark: $18,1 million
-Norway: $16.6 million
-Portugal: $11 million
-Qatar: $10 million
-Saudi Arabia: $10 million
-Singapore: $3.6 million
-New Zealand: $3.5 million
-Finland: $3.3 million
-Kuwait: $2 million
-United Arab Emirates: $2 million
-Ireland: $1.4 million
-Italy: $1.3 million
-Turkey: $1.25 million
-Czech Republic: $750,000
-South Korea: $600,000
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