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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 06:47 GMT
Reporters' log: Asia disaster
As aid efforts get under way in response to the Asian quake disaster, the BBC's correspondents report from affected areas around the region.

Tuesday 28 December

Jonathan Head : Phuket, Thailand : 2209 GMT

This area is much better off than many of the other areas hit by the earthquake - and yet even here the impact is overwhelming.

The tourist toll here is simply unknown. There were a whole load more who were out at sea, who were swept away and may never be found.

It is a horrible job for embassy officials trying to work out the scale of this catastrophe for British tourists.

Nick Bryant : Cuddalore, India : 2206 GMT

Cuddalore means village by the sea. Much of it has been completely washed away.

It is a very easy community to reach - and yet people here are still complaining that basic aid is not getting through.

They spent much of the last 24 hours digging up bodies, many of them young children. They simply couldn't run as fast as the adults.

In some of these wrecked buildings there are still bodies under the rubble. We know they are there because we can smell them.

Dumeetha Luthra : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1800 GMT

Loudspeakers here have been asking residents to lay bodies out for collection and burial.

The hospital is overflowing. It held a mass funeral for the victims who still hadn't been claimed by relatives, victims of a train that was derailed by the onslaught of the wave.

In the north-east of the country the Tamil Tiger rebels said 10,000 people have been killed in areas under their control. They say they can't manage alone and are seeing none of the assistance on its way to the south.

Matthew Grant : Madras, India : 1735 GMT

Unicef has already received reports of outbreaks of diarrhoea amongst survivors. Disease could now spread quickly, as many are huddled together in makeshift camps. Getting clean water to them is critical.

There's rising anger too. Villagers have held protests to demand aid, as well as help in disposing of corpses.

Amid this tense atmosphere, the government's denied that a nuclear reactor near Madras, which was shut down after it was flooded by the waves, poses any radiation threat.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1725 GMT

Khao Lak had smart boutique hotels, tasteful villas and bungalows strung out along the shoreline of a beautiful beach.

Today it's a site of unimaginable horror. The bodies of tourists are being dragged out of the wreckage of their holiday homes.

One half-naked man hung from the twisted timbers of what was left of his room. He looked like he'd been crucified.

German tourist Winfred Parkinson said: "Everyone who wanted to take something out of their house must have died. Only the people who ran and did nothing else but running, only they had a chance."

Rachel Harvey : Aceh, Indonesia : 1710 GMT

The true horror of what happened here on Sunday morning is slowly being pieced together. As more people are reached, so the horrific tales of loss and survival are emerging.

The physical evidence tells its own story. Large parts of Banda Aceh now lie in ruins. Some buildings collapsed in the initial earthquake, others were damaged by the torrents of water which followed minutes afterwards.

The situation on the south-western coast of Aceh is reported to be even worse. Most of the town of Meulaboh has been completely destroyed.

Geeta Pandey : Port Blair, Andaman Islands : 1650 GMT

The Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Professor Ram Kapse, has just returned from the Nicobar region. He says many islands are still underwater and many villages have been washed out. He said 309 bodies have been recovered so far and mass cremations and burials have been held.

More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from the Nicobar islands and brought to the territory's capital, Port Blair. The administration is providing them with some food and water, but many say the relief is inadequate. Officials say they are doing their best.

Sunil Raman : Tamil Nadu, India : 1640 GMT

The people of Tharangampadi in Nagapattinam district of the southern state are still looking for their dead - fishing them out of ponds, pulling a few from tree tops and pulling some from beneath collapsed huts.

The stench of rotting bodies has filled the air and vultures hover above.

Nagapattinam district headquarters is the worst hit. Tens of thousands of huts were washed away. Dinesh, a young fisherman said, "I do not know where my boat is. I have nothing left. I am left just with the clothes on my body".

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1630 GMT

It is clear that the lack of heavy machinery is holding back the rescue operation, in places like Kao Lak, the rescuers are forced to pull the bodies out of the wreckage with their bare hands.

We heard today that there are not enough coffins and those that they do have are often too small for the bodies which have been bloated after sitting in the water for 48 hours.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1550 GMT

Phuket's hospitals have been completely overrun.

One if the concerns that the doctors have is that, because it's more than two days since a lot of the people they are treating were injured, many have had open wounds for more than 48 hours, so a lot of people have infections.

Roland Buerk : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1450 GMT

The dead are being buried with extreme haste and little ceremony.

Outside the main hospital in Galle today there were dozens of bodies lined up in the open air, waiting to be buried.

I spoke to a tourist today who had just come in from the town of Unawatuna and he said people were being buried there as well very quickly, including tourists.

Apparently the people who are burying them are trying to make a note of where the graves are and if they find a passport they are taking a note of that too, in the hope that perhaps one day those remains might be returned to their home countries.

Matthew Grant : Madras, India : 1440 GMT

People in this city are doing whatever they can to help those who've lost everything.

In the fishing village of Pattinapakkam on the outskirts of Madras there's a steady stream of lorries turning up. They are greeted by a surge of locals who rush forward to grab the packets of food, water and clothes.

Many are still living on the beach where their homes once stood. They've cleared away the rubble and staked out their plots with bamboo canes.

But others are too afraid to remain by the sea. Some 750 women and children are taking shelter in the main hall of a nearby school.

Roland Buerke : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1345 GMT

To the north of Galle, yet more tragedy has been discovered.

A train was caught in the tidal wave and swept off the tracks, reports say of the sixteen hundred on board, just three hundred got out alive.

Relief is now arriving in the town, helicopters are flying continuous sorties, bringing supplies in from ships at sea.

But all along Sri Lanka's coast, perhaps a million are homeless, and they're facing another night out in the open.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1300 GMT

The focus of the relief effort has moved north of Phuket to a place called Khao Lak. It's the kind of place people go on holiday to get away from it all.

Most people stayed in small bungalows and villas along the shore. When the waves struck, they didn't stand a chance. Rooms were torn apart by the force of the water.

Most of the bodies recovered have been piled up in a temple, which has been turned into makeshift mortuary.

Rachel Harvey : Aceh, Indonesia : 1105 GMT

The further you travel along the road to Banda Aceh the worse the situation becomes.

We stopped at a local Red Cross post where rows of dead bodies had been piled up. Some were covered in orange plastic sheeting, but others were left exposed to the sun.

Officials told us up to two thousand corpses had been collected at this one point. But they're gradually being taken away in trucks to be buried in mass graves.

Roland Buerke : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1233 GMT

Galle's dead are being buried with haste and little ceremony.

Outside the city's hospital dozens of bodies were lined up in the open air, waiting to be taken away.

In the resorts and villages along the coast they're burying corpses as soon as they find them.

The graves of tourists are being marked and notes taken of names where the dead are known. Perhaps later the remains will be flown home.

Rachel Harvey : Aceh, Indonesia : 1105 GMT

I must have walked down this road, six or seven times during my trips to Aceh over the past two years.

It used to be a bustling market area, there were fruit and vegetable stalls here and cafes along the sides of the road. Now it is absolutely wrecked.

There is mud, debris, masonry, cars, motorbikes, all upturned, mangled, covered in mud. And in the midst of it all, you can see limbs sticking out bodies still lying where they were left when the water retreated.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1055 GMT

The Thais say they expect the number of casualties to double over the next few days, as the relief teams reach more far flung islands.

It's becoming clear that the majority of those who died here were from abroad. But many Thais too have lost their lives, and those who survived, in many cases they lost their livelihoods.

The rescuers here are coping, but there's much to do.

Roland Buerke : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1016 GMT

This small city is filling up with the desperate.

Tourists and Sri Lankans alike are trudging up the road from villages and resorts along the coast. But they're finding little here; relief supplies have yet to get through in any quantity.

People are scrambling through the mud and the ruins for food and bottles of water, and everywhere they're also unearthing the dead, so many there's little time for funeral ceremonies, they're being reburied as quickly as they can be found.

Roads to this part of Sri Lanka are being cleared and people in areas that are unaffected have been coming forward to donate clothes and food.

But perhaps a million people have been left with nothing.

Geeta Pandey : Port Blair, Andaman Islands : 0750 GMT

At least ten navy and coastguard ships have reached the affected areas and defence helicopters are being used for providing relief and rescue to those stranded.

Many civilians have also joined in. In Port Blair they are collecting clothes and food for distribution among the refugees but the scale of the tragedy is overwhelming and officials here say it will cost millions of dollars and take months, probably years, before normalcy can be restored here.

The aftershocks continue to jolt an already shaken population and hundreds of people have been sleeping outside on the streets or in their cars out of fear.

Kylie Morris : Khao Lak, Thailand : 0725 GMT

I can see the wreckage of the hotels that normally string along this beautiful beach. Of course these places have been totally shredded by the waves. Around me they are trying to clear away electrical wires, there's the smell of dead bodies in the air, workers are still pulling bodies from hotel rooms. There are still some foreign tourists here, trying to leave. Seeing this scene, it's clear the scale of the catastrophe that's affected them.

Rachel Harvey : Aceh, Indonesia : 0553 GMT

We're just making our final approach now into Banda Aceh airport and as you come in from the sea there's an area closest to the coast which has clearly been inundated by water. It's still flooded. You can some houses that have been ruined, a bit of road that's flooded in places, patches of brown earth and mud with just trees sticking out.

People must have been living there. It's hard to imagine how they could have survived. As you come further inland now, it's a remarkably tranquil, peaceful-looking scene. There are green paddy fields, palm trees and houses that still seem to be standing. But the peaceful scene is deceptive. We know that thousands and thousands of people have been killed no distance from here.

Matthew Grant : near Madras, India : 0550 GMT

This morning people are venturing back onto the beaches for the first time, trying to pick through the debris and untangle their nets. But locals here in Nochikuppam say the sea has destroyed every single one of their fishing boats. They don't know when they will be able to work again. One man told me he was very angry and very poor. Tell the world we need help, he said.

Dumeetha Luthra : Galle, Sri Lanka : 0220 GMT

It's early morning and once again rescuers get to work. The focus is now on gathering the bodies of the dead and burying them.

In the heat and the humidity, with unclean water supplies, there's a very real concern of disease. The government has said it expects the death toll to rise and says it could reach 20,000.

There are still bodies being washed up along the coast. More than one-million people have been displaced by the disaster.


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