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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 13:15 GMT
Somali tsunami victim toll rises
Wrecked homes in Hafun, Somalia
Somalia's north-east Puntland coastline was badly hit
Almost 300 Somalis have died in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, the regional authorities are saying.

At a news conference, officials in the semi-independent region of Puntland announced that 298 Somalis had died.

The giant waves hit the north-eastern Somali coastline at the height of the fishing season, when the population of coastal villages is larger than usual.

The United Nations has distributed more than 200 tonnes of food aid to 12,000 Somalis so far, it says.

The UN agency, the World Food Programme, says up to 30,000 require food assistance.

The largest quantities of food are being distributed in the Hafun peninsula, which was one of the worst affected areas.

The UN has four teams in the area to assess the damage and provide aid.

On Tuesday the UN launched an appeal for help for saying at least $13m was urgently needed to help some 54,000 Somalis affected by the tsunami.

Difficulties

Along the north-eastern coast a large number of shelters, fishing boats and equipment have been lost or damaged and wells have been washed away.

AFRICA: DEATH TOLL
Somalia: 298
Tanzania: 10
Kenya: 1
Seychelles: 1

Relief workers have been trying to distribute immediate aid, such as food and clean water, to survivors.

But they say they are finding it difficult to reach a number of areas because some of the road tracks have become impassable and the main bridge which connects the Hafun peninsula to the Somali mainland has been washed away.

US and German soldiers, based in neighbouring Djibouti, have been helping aid agencies in Somalia to get fresh water and other supplies to the survivors.

Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi cancelled a planned visit to the affected region at the weekend.

It would have been his first trip to Somalia since his appointment from exile in Kenya.

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