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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 14:35 GMT
Tsunami relief gathers momentum
Aid workers sort aid packages in Medan, Indonesia
Indonesia's aid logjam is slowly being cleared
Relief efforts around the Indian Ocean are gathering pace, eight days after tsunami waves devastated the region.

In the worst-hit area, Indonesia's Aceh province, aid planes have been taking vital supplies to more remote areas.

But washed-out roads and bridges are still preventing aid workers reaching many of the millions of people in need.

The tsunami, triggered by an undersea earthquake off Indonesia, is known to have killed more than 140,000, from Sumatra to Somalia.

More than 1.8 million people need food aid, and an estimated five million people have been made homeless.

In Aceh the relief logjam is easing as military aircraft from Indonesia, the US, Australia, and Malaysia take medicine, water and food from the regional capital, Banda Aceh, to other areas in need.

Germany: 60 dead
1,000 missing
Sweden: 52 dead
2,915 missing
Britain: 40 dead
159 missing
France: 22 dead
Up to 560 missing
Norway: 21 dead
400+ missing
Japan: 21 dead
Italy: 18 dead
570+ missing
Switzerland: 16 dead
500 missing
US: 15 dead
Australia: 12 dead
700+ missing
South Korea: 11 dead
Final figures expected to rise.
Sources: Reuters, AP

There have been frantic scenes as crowds of desperate survivors scramble to retrieve air-dropped supplies.

Aid workers have been shocked by the scale of the task ahead.

"The emergency teams are arriving, to be blocked by a wall of devastation," a relief official told Reuters news agency.

Aid agencies say it could be several more days before all districts are reached.

An advance party of 42 US marines has also flown into Sri Lanka to prepare the ground for an eventual deployment of up to 1,500.

In other developments:

  • Tamil Tiger rebels in northern Sri Lanka say the government has yet to show it is serious in relief efforts, although both sides have set up a joint committee to supervise the distribution of help

  • Supplies are also being dropped over India's Andaman and Nicobar groups, but aid groups condemn government restrictions on their operations there

  • UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says a "significant number" of 159 missing Britons are likely to have died in the tsunamis - mostly in Thailand - on top of the 40 British citizens already confirmed dead

  • US Secretary of State Colin Powell and President George W Bush's brother Jeb travel to the region to see the devastation at first-hand.

Relief operations are also being stepped up in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The BBC's Daniel Lak in the region says much of the aid is coming from informal sources such as businesses, community groups and individuals.

Early problems with coordination of so many supplies being channelled to the right recipients are being ironed out, the authorities say.

However India's official death toll of more than 9,000 is expected to soar as rescuers reach more remote areas.


In affected areas of southern India fishing fleets have been decimated and fishermen traumatised by the tsunamis.

However some are returning to sea.

One fisherman told AFP news agency: "My son and wife died and I need to live. The only staple food I can have is fish."

An Indian fisherman in Tamil Nadu
Hundreds of thousands of fishermen have lost their livelihoods

In Sri Lanka - the hardest-hit nation after Indonesia - most of the fishing boats on the battered eastern seaboard have also been destroyed.

Experts assessing the damage say more than a million fishermen in the north-east have lost their livelihoods.

According to officials, 40% of the more than 30,000 Sri Lankans known to have died were children.

In Thailand the authorities have promised to continue searching for bodies for at least five more days before deciding whether to stop.

About 5,000 people are known to have died in the country - half of them foreigners - and 4,000 people are still missing.

Ships from the Thai and Japanese navies are searching for bodies offshore, following a request from Sweden, which has the most missing tourists.

1. Indonesia: 94,081
2. Sri Lanka: 30,196
3. India (inc Andaman and Nicobar Is): 9,479
4. Thailand: 5,046
5. Somalia: 142
6. Burma: 53
7. Maldives: 74
8. Malaysia: 67
9. Tanzania: 10
10. Seychelles: 1
11. Bangladesh: 2
12. Kenya: 1

See the devastation in a village in Indonesia


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