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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 09:56 GMT
Reporters' log: Asia disaster
Aid teams are battling chaos to reach thousands who survived sea surges triggered by a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean. BBC correspondents report from affected areas around the region and beyond.

Saturday 1 January

Dominic Hughes: Phuket, Thailand : 1550 GMT

Outside Phuket's town hall and the main hospitals, friends and relatives have been scouring noticeboards covered in pictures of the missing, looking for any clues as to their fate.

But now the authorities are urging people to stay away from the Buddhist temples that serve as makeshift morgues.

Many of the bodies were recovered from the water and after six hot days they are no longer recognisable.

An official said photos were now useless in identifying bodies and there was an increasing risk of disease.

Gina Wilkinson : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1544 GMT

Foreign aid workers say thousands more people have been displaced by flash floods and torrential rain along the east coast.

Half a million people had already lost their homes and taken refuge in schools and temples.

Now, many of the displaced are on the move again after some of these temporary shelters were inundated by flood waters.

The rain damaged roads and bridges to some of the most impoverished areas of the southeast, crippling the relief effort.

Aid workers say the flooding has greatly increased the risk of potentially deadly infection and water-bourne disease.

The forecasters predict more heavy downpours early in the week.

Rachel Harvey : Banda Aceh, Indonesia : 1542 GMT

For five days the authorities here have struggled to cope with dwindling supplies.

Now, they have a new challenge - trying to manage the massive amounts of aid which have started to arrive.

The Indonesian government has appointed a cabinet minister to oversee the operation on the ground. Effective coordination is crucial.

There are vast areas along the southwest coast and a string of small islands offshore where reconnaissance flights have spotted clusters of survivors. Their situation is desperate.

Now, at last, they may get the help they need in time to safe them.

Jonathan Charles : Port Blair Andaman islands : 1450 GMT

The Indian military now appears to be taking over the prime responsibility for the relief effort, removing overall control from the civilian authorities in what seems to be a sign that the operation to bring help to the stricken Andaman and Nicobar islands is struggling.

The regional military commander-in-chief, General BS Thakur, acknowledged that his troops were facing huge logistical problems in getting aid to the people who desperately needed it.

He said most islands didn't have airfields and could be approached only by sea, but many jetties have been destroyed, making it impossible for ships full of supplies to dock.

General Thakur indicated that the figure of six-thousand people confirmed as missing or dead so far may be a conservative estimate.

On the island of Car Nicobar alone, survivors have told me that ten-thousand people may be unaccounted for. Other islands could have lost a quarter of their inhabitants.

Jeremy Bowen : Kalmunai, Sri Lanka : 1430 GMT

Torrential rain and severe flooding has been yet another drag on a relief operation which has still barely reached some parts of this country.

Here on the remote east coast, the Sri Lankan air force had to cancel its helicopter operation for parts of the day because of the weather.

That meant food and medical supplies didn't get through to people who'd been cut off by the floods and who've now been living rough for almost a week since the tsunami struck.

Dumeetha Luthra : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1210 GMT

Flash floods in eastern Sri Lanka are seriously hampering relief efforts.

A United Nations official said that some parts along the coastline are now under almost a metre of water. He said this will pose problems for relief to get through as roads to the area are now once again submerged.

Gina Wilkinson : Galle, Sri Lanka : 1041 GMT

At a maternity hospital in Galle, scores of volunteers are shovelling debris and trying to salvage life-saving medical equipment.

The ground floor of the hospital is in ruins. Stretchers that once carried patients are now being used to cart bucketloads of mud and wreckage from the wards.

All the patients in this four-hundred-and-fifty bed hospital have been moved further inland, but the medical facility is badly needed to treat the many left injured by tsunamis that battered the coast.

Rachel Harvey : Banda Aceh, Indonesia : 0910 GMT

The noise of helicopters overhead used to be a characteristic of the conflict which has raged here between Indonesian security forces and separatist rebels for the past 18 months.

Now it's a welcome sound of hope.

Aid has started arriving here by air, road and sea, but there's a shortage of manpower on the ground to unload supplies when they arrive, and a shortage of safe places in which to store them.

Gina Wilkinson : Galle, Sri Lanka : 0850 GMT

Heavy rain on Sri Lanka's battered east coast is adding to the misery of the hundreds of thousands of people whose homes were swept away by tsunamis.

The military says some bridges and roads have been damaged by flash floods, and the south-eastern town of Akkarapathu is under three feet of water.

Some tents and plastic sheeting have been distributed, but many of the half a million people displaced by the disaster have little or no shelter.

Rachel Harvey : Banda Aceh, Indonesia : 0457 GMT

A US aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, has arrived off the Sumatran coast and the first of 12 helicopters have already arrived.

Their mission is to get help to areas which have been cut off from the outside world.

They are reported to be carrying food, water and generators. Back on board, the Americans say they have the facilities to purify up to 90,000 gallons of water a day.

The scene at Banda Aceh's tiny airport is chaotic. Planes are arriving full of aid only to find that there isn't enough manpower to unload the cargo and there's a shortage of safe places to store supplies.

If the relief effort is to be in any way effective, co-ordination now is vital.

Jonathan Charles : Port Blair, Andaman Islands : 0209 GMT

The authorities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been swift to set up camps for the survivors and more than 7,000 people have been airlifted from flooded islands to the regional capital, Port Blair.

But now many of the survivors are accusing the authorities of failing to hand out aid to the camps, saying that if it wasn't for the generosity of Port Blair residents they'd have had nothing to eat and drink.

It's yet another sign that the scale of the disaster, in an island chain near to the epicentre of the earthquake which triggered last weekend's sea surges, is overwhelming the relief operation.

The authorities have rejected offers of help from international charities, insisting that they are coping.

Some aid organisations believe the real reason they're being kept out is because the area includes a sensitive military intelligence base.


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