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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 01:20 GMT
US vows support for disaster zone
A ruined district of Meulaboh, Aceh
Whole streets were swept away by the tidal wave
The United States has renewed its promise to help survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami as aid workers uncover the full scale of the devastation.

Arriving in Indonesia, Secretary of State Colin Powell said humanitarian relief was part of "American values" and he linked it to fighting terrorism.

US helicopters are deployed in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, where the tsunami claimed most of its 140,000 victims.

The United Nations has appealed for more cargo planes and other transport.

The UN relief agency called for C-17 transport aircraft which, it says, only the US and UK can supply.

It said it also needed helicopters and ships to carry them as well as disembarkation vessels, air traffic control equipment, electricity generators and water purification equipment.

The US has already deployed two naval battle groups equipped with 45 helicopters, one to Indonesia and the other to Sri Lanka, as well as some 13,000 military personnel.

Other Nato states are also sending transport aircraft and ships to the disaster zones, including a French helicopter carrier and a German navy supply ship.

Meanwhile, unidentified bodies of European origin in Thailand are going to be taken to China for DNA-testing, the BBC's Gavin Hewitt reports from Phuket.

Valuable investment

Head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Thomas Fargo, said the number of helicopters deployed by the US military could double as more are brought in aboard other ships.

The 1,000-bed hospital ship, Mercy, based in San Diego, is also undergoing sea trials in case it is needed for deployment, he told a news conference.

"Many American taxpayers made an investment in a very solid and robust military capability that has a wide range of uses and we're demonstrating the value of that investment today," he said.

US officials point out that demonstrating the value of their military forces is not their reason for getting involved in the relief effort, says the BBC's Nick Childs at the Pentagon.

But there is little disguising their hope that images of US military personnel helping in places devastated by the tsunami and earthquake will boost the country's image worldwide.

'Chance for generosity'

Mr Powell arrived in Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic country, with a message to Muslims worldwide.

USS Abraham Lincoln, off Indonesian coast
US: Two naval battle groups, 45 helicopters, 17 C-130 cargo planes, 13,000 personnel
Other Nato states: French helicopter carrier, German navy supply ship, 14 C-130s from various member-states
India: Has 16,000 personnel with 32 ships deployed both in own disaster area and Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia
Other states: Three Russian Il-76 transport aircraft, Japanese naval craft

Muslims, along with the rest of the world, had "an opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action", he said in Jakarta.

"And I hope as a result of our efforts, as a result of our helicopter pilots being seen by the citizens of Indonesia helping them, that value system of ours will be reinforced."

The US secretary of state added that US relief work should also "dry up pools of dissatisfaction which might give rise to terrorist activity".

The US government has pledged $350m in aid as well as its military assets, and two former presidents, George Bush Senior and Bill Clinton, are heading a private appeal to US citizens for donations.

1. Indonesia: 94,081
2. Sri Lanka: 30,196
3. India (inc Andaman and Nicobar Is): 9,479
4. Thailand: 5,246
5. Somalia: 150
6. Burma: 59
7. Maldives: 74
8. Malaysia: 68
9. Tanzania: 10
10. Seychelles: 1
11. Bangladesh: 2
12. Kenya: 1

Scenes of unprecedented destruction in Indonesia


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