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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 15:45 GMT
Indonesia's tsunami deaths soar
Volunteers from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) collect bodies from the debris in Banda Aceh
Recovery workers are still removing bodies
Indonesia's health ministry has raised the figure for the number of people killed by the Asian tsunami disaster to more than 166,000.

The latest figure is more than 50,000 higher than the previous total issued by the ministry.

The announcement raises the global death toll to about 220,000.

Most of the new tally of deaths came from the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, which were directly in the tsunami's path when it hit.

About 800,000 people were made homeless in Aceh and North Sumatra as a result of the disaster.

Declared dead

The director of the ministry's health affairs department, Doti Indrasanto, said the number of fatalities soared after health officials declared that thousands of people previously listed as missing were dead.

Province on the north-western tip of Sumatra
Higher percentage of Muslims than other parts of Indonesia
Gam rebels have fought decades-long separatist campaign
Internationally-brokered peace deal brokered in Dec 02 but collapsed in May 03
Year-long military crackdown weakened Gam, but failed to capture senior members

The Health Ministry said it had slashed the number of missing from 77,000 to 6,245.

"We have cross-checked this information and it is correct," Mr Idrasanto told Reuters news agency.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the final death toll might never be known.

"Perhaps we will never know the exact scale of the human casualties," he said.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Aceh says that in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, more than 14% of the population is confirmed dead.

She says there are still local districts that have not reported any figures at all, making it seem inevitable that the final death toll will be higher still.



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