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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 06:59 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.

Wednesday 29 December

Dumeetha Luthra: Galle, Sri Lanka : 1925 GMT

A packet of biscuits, a bottle of water - bits and pieces of aid are being handed out. Nothing organised, nothing close to what is needed. This is a city in desperate need of assistance.

Local organisations and even individuals are doing what they can but it's not enough.

Galle is relatively close to Colombo but across the country there are still areas which are impossible to reach by land. People are relying on military helicopters for medical and food drops.

Geeta Pandey: Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean : 1733 GMT

So far only 300-odd bodies have been recovered. But officials say up to 10,000 people are dead or missing.

Hundreds of people, mostly women and young children, have been flown into Port Blair.

They're being kept in school buildings, which have been turned into relief centres. Officials say many more are on their way.

The sense of despair here is overwhelming. As one woman said: "We are wearing borrowed clothes and living a borrowed life".

Rachel Harvey : Banda Aceh, Indonesia : 1715 GMT

Every day we are hearing of more casualties as more inaccessible areas are reached.

We've heard that 70 or 80% of the population of Meulaboh are dead... we may never know for sure just how many people died here.

The situation is very difficult... limbs are sticking out from bits of wood. People don't want to look at the bodies. They've given up hope of finding any relatives.

Lots of different organisations are trying to do what they can... Distribution is a big, big problem. Somebody really does need to take control.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1524 GMT

Those who've lost a relative or a friend in this disaster are told to go to Phuket's city hall.

There the different foreign embassies have set out stalls on the grass, where people queue for information and advice.

Pinned up on one wall are long lists of the injured, which include where they're being treated.

Jonathan Head : Phi Phi Island, Phuket, Thailand : 1402 GMT

The dramatic scenery is still there: the forested cliffs rising from a turquoise sea. But as you approach the beach in Phi Phi's main bay, you're confronted by scenes of horrifying destruction.

Most of the resort has simply vanished. The rest has been crushed by the immense power of the waves into mangled heaps of wreckage. And inside there are still bodies.

The stench is overpowering.

Ishbel Matheson: Nairobi, Kenya : 1336 GMT

Aid agencies in Somalia are struggling to reach the coastal villages worst affected by Sunday's tsunamis.

Aid workers who finally managed to reach Hafun described a scene of devastation. Almost all the houses on the island were destroyed.

Many of the inhabitants fled inland and are now living on hilltops. They have no food, water or medicine. Already there are cases of diarrhoea.

Heavy trucks carrying food have not yet been able to reach the area.

Rachel Harvey : Banda Aceh, Indonesia : 1315 GMT

There's a slightly surreal feel here sometimes. There are still bodies littering the streets and people are just walking past them. It's not that they're dispassionate I don't think - it's just that they can't deal with it and absorb what's happening and they have to get on with their lives.

Supplies are running short so people are concentrating on getting water and food while they can.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 1310 GMT

We've seen two very different sides of the rescue operation today.

They're still pulling bodies out of the wreckage in places like Phi Phi Island and the beach resort of Khao Lak. In fact the British officials we've been speaking to say they're no longer giving out a regular tally of British casualties because so many bodies are being pulled out all over this area and it's too chaotic.

I went down to the city hall in Phuket this afternoon and met some of the people who are desperately trying to find friends and loved ones - some of them clutching photocopies of passport photographs that they're showing to officials and anyone else who is there in the hope that someone might have some information.

We went on to the hospital and they say there are far fewer casualties coming in now and many more people coming to look for people they have lost.

Geeta Pandey: Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean : 1240 GMT

More than 72 hours later, the rescue teams are yet to reach some of the islands in the Nicobar region which have a combined population of 8,000.

The Lieutenant Governor, Professor Ram Kapse, says several churches are lost, roads washed out, and bridges destroyed, making it impossible for rescuers to land there.

Professor Kapse says in Car Nicobar alone at least 10,000 people are missing. But he qualified his remarks by saying that this doesn't mean they are all dead.

Relief and rescue operations are in full swing. Hundreds of people, mostly women and young children, have been flown into Port Blair from Nicobar where they're being kept in school buildings turned into refugee centres. Officials say many more are on their way.

Many of the refugees said most of their family members are still stuck back home.

Several non-governmental organisations and private citizens have been bringing in food and clothes for them. But at these relief camps, water supply has been a problem. At the relief centres, the sense of despair is overwhelming.

Jonathan Head : Phuket, Thailand : 1200 GMT

In Phuket there's a sort of normality now, there's a beautiful sunset, the sea's as calm as a millpond, you wouldn't know what it had done just three days ago, yet the rubble's there for all to see.

But this is a very orderly scene compared to other resorts, Khao Lak to the north, and the island of Koh Phi Phi. I've just come back from there and it's a scene of biblical horror. They took 300 bodies off yesterday, today they were pulling bodies out every five or ten minutes. The resort that was Koh Phi Phi has vanished.

Matthew Grant : Tamil Nadu coast, India : 1200 GMT

As helicopters fly overhead, locals are still searching for bodies here. Their sense of smell is the best way to find them.

Even several kilometres back from the sea front, houses are completely flattened. As people search for the bodies inside, no one stops to move the dead animals. Large pools of stagnant water are everywhere.

People are scattering bleach powder around, and a water tanker has just arrived. But despite the risk of infection, people are still drinking water from the one remaining pump.

Three days after the sea chased these villagers from their homes, many are coming back here for the first time. The process of rebuilding their homes is made harder by the fact so many are badly injured themselves.

Dumeetha Luthra : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1110 GMT

What we're seeing here is a slow trickle of aid coming through. These are local NGOs and private companies - individuals who have brought trucks down from Colombo packed with tinned goods, basic foodstuffs and clothing and they are now distributing them in Galle.

The problem is that there is no co-ordinated effort here and it is still very chaotic. Trucks have been set up at the sides of the road and other trucks that are arriving don't know where to go.

On a more national level, it's going to be difficult to distribute aid because the railway lines and the roads have been destroyed and damaged by the tsunami.

Charles Haviland : Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu coast, India : 0920 GMT

A 100-strong Army Engineering Corps is now clearing burial sites. Its leader said he thought some 200 bodies were still to be recovered.

The navy is also on hand and a medical team has arrived to help prevent the spread of waterborne diseases through vaccination and education. It is a mammoth task - one doctor says all the water here is contaminated.

The local community seems numbed by the scale of the disaster, with an almost eerie calm. People of all ages, many masked against the stench of bodies, are lending whatever help they can to help the bereaved and wounded.

Dumeetha Luthra : Galle, Sri Lanka : 0905 GMT

The World Food Programme has arrived here now. Two trucks of aid were brought in early this morning but this is still very little compared to what is needed.

In the north-east, in the Tamil Tiger-held areas, they say they've received no aid and that 10,000 people there have been killed.

It's really a do-it-yourself relief effort at the moment. There is a real lack of clean drinking water. Here in Galle people have been saying all they have to drink is polluted water and they don't know where to get clean water from. This is something that trucks are bringing in.

And if the bodies aren't buried as soon as possible this could also bring disease.

Chris Hogg: Phuket, Thailand: 0800 GMT

The bodies of those victims recovered from the wreckage are laid out in lines on the floors of makeshift mortuaries. Many have been in the water for several days. They are now festering in the heat.

Some Thai people have appealed to the authorities to release the corpses of their loved ones for burial, but they want money to help transport the bodies back home.

The government says the first of a fleet of refrigerated container lorries has left Bangkok, bound for the worst affected areas. They will be used to help preserve the bodies until they can be identified.

The Thai Prime Minister is visiting Phuket and other resorts to see the relief efforts for himself. Thaksin Shinawatra has called on Thailand's banks to provide people with whatever financial help they need. He's cancelled all New Year's celebrations; there will be a period of mourning instead.

Roland Buerk: Galle, Sri Lanka: 0545 GMT

Every day more desperate people are arriving in Galle. They are walking up the coast from resorts and villages devastated by the tsunami. Many have nothing and they are finding little here. Distribution points have been set up, but there has been hardly any food and water to hand out.

With the first reports of diarrhoea outbreaks now coming back from some of the camps, the need for a structured response is particularly pressing.

Matthew Grant: Tamil Nadu coast, India : 0540 GMT

Along this coastline there are now hundreds of makeshift relief camps. While aid is reaching many, the big problem is it is not being distributed evenly. In the easy-to-reach areas, villages are being deluged with handouts, but in the more remote parts many still lack basics such as safe drinking-water.

Plane-loads of supplies are beginning to arrive in Sri Lanka. But it will be a massive logistical operation to get aid to the worst-hit areas and people here have little time.

Rachel Harvey : Banda Aceh, Indonesia : 0445 GMT

There is a much more visible military presence around Banda Aceh today. Thousands of extra troops have been drafted in to help clear the bodies which still litter the streets. In the space of 20 minutes I counted 10 trucks filled with bodies arriving at one mass grave on the outskirts of town.

But the situation here in Banda Aceh is only part of the picture. The true scale of the disaster in the south-west and among the string of small islands just off the coast is still not known. A naval ship is now on its way to the area.

A major relief effort is desperately needed here, but so far the operation on the ground appears patchy, at best.

Chris Hogg : Phuket, Thailand : 0230 GMT

For the first couple of days the relief effort here was focused on search and rescue. Now, though, the authorities need to extend their operations to meet the needs of those who survived, according to the United Nations children's agency, Unicef.

Many children were separated from their parents when the wave struck. Phuket hospital has been posting pictures of some of them on the internet in an attempt to find their families. It's drawn dozens of people and local people to the hospital, desperate to be reunited with their loved ones.


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