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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 17:17 GMT
Kohl rescued as Swedes fear worst
Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl was airlifted from the roof of his flooded hotel
Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was among thousands of foreign tourists caught in the tsunami disaster in southern Asia.

Britons, Swiss, French, Australians, Danes, Italians, Japanese and Americans in the region were hit, but Swedes seem to be among the worst affected.

Sweden's foreign minister said 1,500 were still missing, mainly in Thailand, and she feared many would not be found.

Sri Lanka says its troops airlifted Mr Kohl from the roof of a flooded hotel.

A spokesman for Mr Kohl said the 74-year-old had been staying at a coastal resort in Sri Lanka, where he was undergoing heath spa treatments, and was not hurt.

"Kohl intends to complete his holiday," he added.

A huge undersea quake triggered sea surges on Sunday killing at least 38,000 people, with thousands more feared dead.

Millions of people are homeless, and the disaster zone is now threatened with outbreaks of disease.

Hundreds of holidaymakers have already flown or are flying out of the region.

The bodies of more than 700 mainly foreign tourists have been found in the Thai resort of Khao Lak - the government says the death toll in Thailand may rise to about 2,000.

Text messages

The BBC's Lars Bevanger said six Swedes are among the dead, but tour operators in Sweden say more than 1,500 of their charter tourists are missing from various tourist resorts on Thailand's west coast.

Swedish woman injured
Fears are growing for thousands of missing Swedes in the region
An unknown number of Swedish independent travellers are also missing. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Laila Freivalds, told journalists in Stockholm she feared many of them would never be found.

She is travelling to Thailand with relief workers to assess the situation and help in efforts to get Swedish nationals home.

The Swedish government has sent text messages to everyone who has a Swedish telephone in Thailand, hoping to gain some answers as to the whereabouts of some of the missing.

The Swedish government has responded by chartering three large passenger planes, which will make 20 flights to Thailand in order to get all Swedish citizens back by next Tuesday.

The south of Thailand is a very popular for Swedes, particularly at this time of year, which is normally the coldest in the Scandinavian country.


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