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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 15:10 GMT
Nordic tourist death toll climbs
Western woman searching list of dead persons in Phuket
Tourists in Phuket are desperately trying to trace loved ones
Scandinavian countries fear hundreds of their citizens died in Thailand as hopes fade for more than 6,000 people still missing after the tsunami there.

The Swedish death toll could be more than 1,000, Sweden's Prime Minister Goran Persson said on Thursday.

At least half of those missing are Western tourists - many of them from the Nordic countries and Germany.

The missing include some 1,500 Swedes, 1,000 Germans, 600 Italians, 464 Norwegians, 219 Danes and 200 Finns.

About 2,000 bodies have been recovered, but Thailand has appealed for foreign forensic experts to help identify them.

The victims were at resorts along Thailand's south-western coast and on outlying islands, with Phuket and Khao Lak especially hard hit by the devastating waves.

The Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, says he believes around 80% of the missing are dead.

Officially Thailand says at least 473 foreigners died in the disaster.

Resorts wiped out

Sweden's prime minister said 44 Swedes had been confirmed dead so far.

"It's clear to everyone that the final death toll will be in the hundreds. In the worst case, it could exceed 1,000," Mr Persson told reporters in Stockholm.

Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told citizens to expect the German death toll to rise "well into the three-figure range". Officially Germany has confirmed 33 dead so far.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said several hundred French were also unaccounted for. France has confirmed at least 22 of its nationals died.

The UK government has confirmed 27 British dead.

Hotel owners said most of the 5,000 rooms on Khao Lak's resort strip were full when the tsunami struck around breakfast time.

A total of 360 people - 261 guests and 99 employees - are missing from the French-owned Sofitel alone.

European countries have pledged millions of dollars in aid and planes carrying experts and supplies have been flown to the region.

Devastated Sofitel Hotel, Khao Lak resort
The bodies have been lying unrefrigerated and are deteriorating rapidly
Bill Patterson
Australian diplomat, Thailand

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Phuket says forensic experts from Britain and Australia are on their way, but after the floods and four days of extreme heat, many bodies recovered from the wreckage are almost unrecognisable.

On the ground in the disaster zone, many Europeans are still waiting for news of friends and relatives missing since Sunday's waves.

Locals and tourists are inspecting the dead for loved ones, or looking at message boards posted with photos of the dead.

The Danish and Norwegian foreign ministries have been sharply criticised by some of their nationals in Thailand, who accuse them of reacting too slowly to the disaster.

Aid arrives

International aid has started arriving in Phuket, with supplies from France and Australia being the first to arrive.

Among the nations donating money are Spain, sending 50m euros ($68m or 35m), and the UK, sending 21m euros ($29m or 21m).

Sweden is sending two air ambulances with room for 36 patients each to Thailand on Thursday. And the Scandinavian Airlines System has put on extra flights to Bangkok and Phuket carrying relief supplies. They will return with injured tourists.

The European Union is planning a special meeting of EU aid ministers early next month to co-ordinate relief efforts.

Denmark has said it plans to head a Nordic-British-Dutch effort to establish a UN disaster coordination centre on Indonesia's Sumatra island, according to the Associated Press.

People search for their missing loved ones


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